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The Cross in Ritual, Architecture, and Art. 

"This book is reverent, learned, and interesting, and will be 
read with a great deal of profit by anyone who wishes to study 
the history of the sign of our Redemption." — Church Times. 

'' It is copiously and well illustrated, lucidly ordered and 
written, and deserves to be widely known." — Yorkihire Post. 

"The volume teems with facts, and it is evident that Mr. 
Tyack has made his study a labour of love, and spared no 
research in order, within the prescribed limits, to make his work 
complete. He has given us a valuable work of reference, and 
a very instructive and entertaining volume." — Birmino^ham 
Daily Gazette. 

"An engrossing and instructive narrative." — Dundee 

" As a popular account of the Cross in history, we do not 
know that a better book can be named.*' — Glasgow Herald. 

Historic Dress of the Clergy. 

*' We do not hesitate to recommend this volume as the most 
reliable and the most comprehensive illustrated guide to the 
history and origin of the canonical vestments and other dress 
worn by the clergy, whether ecclesiastical, academical, or 
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make it a beautiful ^ift-book." — Church Bells. 

"A very painstaking and very valuable volume on a subject 
which is just now attracting much attention. Mr. Tyack has 
collected a large amount of information from sources not avail- 
able to the unlearned, and has put together his materials in an 
attractive way. The book deserves and is sure to meet with a 
wide circulation." — Daily Chronicle. 

" The book can be recommended to an undoubtedly large 
class of persons who are seeking information on this and kindred 
subjects.** — The Times. 

"The book is written with great care, and with an evident 
knowledge of history. It is well worth the study of all who 
wish to be better informed upon a subject which the author 
states in his preface gives evident signs of a lively and growing 
interest.** — Manchester Courier. 

A Book About Bells. 

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interested in bells will, we feel confident, read it with pleasure 
and profit.'* — Church Family Newspaper. 

" A pleasing, graceful, and scholarly book. . . A handsome 
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perused with delight and advantage by the general reader." — 
Notes and Queries. 

*' 'A Book About Bells ' can be heartily commended." — Pall 
Mall Gazette. 

"•A Book .A.bout Bells' is destined to be the work of 
reference on the subject, and it ought to find a home on the 
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%ovc anb %cQcnb 

of tbe 

EriGlisb Church . 

J5s tbeyv 

•Rev. (5eo:^ »rii?acft, B.a. 











JiUrU^, ■ 


T7NC0URAGED by the kindly reception that his 
-* — ' former works have been accorded, the author of 
the following pages has once more ventured to make the 
attempt at presenting, in brief and popular form, some, at 
least, of the salient points of a large subject. Within the 
limits which he has set himself, he has aimed at making this 
examination of the Lore and Legends of the English Church 
as complete as possible ; with what success he must leave 
it to the reader to judge. It is his pleasure, as well as a 
duty, once more to acknowledge the obligation under which 
he is to the excellent library of works on folk-lore and 
kindred subjects which his friend and publisher, Mr. William 
Andrews, of the Hull Press, has put at his service. 

Geo. S. Tyack. 


Easter^ iSgg. 




Chaffer I. Introduction.— All Religions largely con- 
cerned with the Supernatural and the Mysterious, and 
these the fields most largely occupied by Folk-lore — The 
adoption of Pagan usages by the Church often harmless 
and even expedient — Evidence of S. Paul, S. Gregory, 
and the Catacombs — Folk-lore a growth, not an invention 
— The familiar affection of the people for the Church in 
past days — The ethical truth of legends historically untrue 
— S. Dunstan — Widespread interest of the Mediaeval 
Church — Limitations proposed. I 

Chapter II. The Building of the Church.— Sites of 
heathen temples utilized for Christian Churches— The 
Empire and the temples— Circular Churchyards and their 
origin — Churches near Wells — Supernatural indication of 
sites— Durham Cathedral — Cartmel — Supernatural inter- 
ference with building — Welsh, Cornish, and other examples 
— Pagan custom of human sacrifice at laying a foundation 
— Connection of this with the foregoing stories — Other 
suggested explanations — Legends of carvings, etc., on 
Churches — Satanic possession of Churches — Further prooi 
in these of early contests between Paganism and Christianity 
— Form of Early Churches — Wooden Churches — Cruciform 
buildings — Circular buildings — Orientation — Methods of 
raising funds — Briefs — Destniction of Churches by fire — 
By encroachments of the sea — By drifts of sand — Services 
in partly ruined Churches — Twin Churches — Largest and 
smallest Churches — Curiously built Churches ii 

Chapter III. The Church Steeple.— Use of Steeples — 
The Devil's dislike to them — Steeples at Probus, Ashton- 
under-Lyne, Ormskirk, and Prestwich — Acrobats on 
Steeples — Curiosities preserved in Church Towers — 
Church clock superstitions — Hymns on Church Towers — 
Fortified Towers — Notable Towers and Spires 43 

Chapter IV. The Churchyard.— The Garth, Atrium^ 
or **God*s Acre" — Trees in Churchyards — Yews — Rose- 
trees — Churchyard grass — Ghosts — S. Mark's Eve— Hemp- 
seed charm — Churchyard charms — Divination and witchcraft 
— North side of the Churchyard — Funeral and Bridal 
processions — Wakes — Secular use of Churchyards — Clipping 
the Church — Church Ales — The Parish Stocks — Preaching 
Crosses — Doles distributed in Churchyards — A Dorset 
custom— S. Germoe's Chair — The Sun-dial. $2 



Chapter V. Graves and Funerals.— Burials in Church- 
yards and in Churches — S. Swithin — The Orientation of 
graves — First interment in a new grave-yard — Animals 
and things buried with the dead — Funeral superstitions — 
Flowers at funerals — Use of coffins — Funeral garlands — 
Flowers on graves — All Souls' Day, Whit Sunday, and 
Flowering Sunday — The herse— Burial in Woollen — 
Attendance at funerals — Bearers — Torches — The Burial 
Service — A charm — Exhumation — Curious grave-stones — 
Epitaphs — "Edwin and Emma." ... ... ... ... 78 

Chapter VI. The Nave.— The "Ship of the Church"— 
Rushes for a floor-cov6ring — Rush-bearing — Seats — High 
pews — Bench-ends — A Cornish legend — Family pews — 
Hall-dog pews - Galleries — Separation of the Congregation 
according to the sexes — Wearing hats in Church — Dog- 
whippers — State attendance of Mayors and others — Secular 
uses of the Nave — Feasts— Paul's Walk — Standard land 
measures marked in Church - Curious incident at Wells — 
Public penances — Charms and spells — Sunday weather — 
Pictures and statues in Churches— The Royal Arms — 
Floral decorations— Quaint Christmas custom at Ripon — 
Trees in Churches. ... ... loi 

Chapter VII. The Pulpit and the Lectern. — Origin 
of Pulpits and Lecterns — Movable Pulpits — Old Pulpits, 
their Sounding Boards, and Hour Glasses — " Three- 
deckers" — Laws for the provision of Pulpits in Churches 
— Laws ancient and modern as to Sermons — Homilies — 
Mediaeval preaching — Latimer's Sermons — Curious methods 
of Preachers — Endowed Sermons — Bampton Lectures, 
Boyle Lectures, the Lion Sermon, the Fairchild Sermon 
— A Corpus Christi Sermon — Wedding Sermons — Funeral 
Sermons — Lecterns— Eagle Lecterns — The Bristol Eagle — 
The Pelican — The Caistor Gad-whip — The Litany-desk. 134 

Chapter VIII. The Font.— Early Baptisteries and Fonts 
— Baptismal Churches — The material of Fonts — Their 
shape — Their decoration — Their inscriptions — Their covers 
and canopies — Their position — Basins used for Fonts — 
Hallowing the Font— Baptismal seasons — The Baptismal 
waters — Water from the Jordan and from Holy Wells — 
Superstition concerning a first Baptism — Decorating a 
Church for a Baptism — The Bearing-cloth — The Chrisom 
— Chrisom-children — Christening caps — Sponsors — Their 
qualifications and numbers — Superstitions concerning God- 
parents — The age for Baptism — Precedence of the sexes — 
Immersion, Aspersion, and "Sprinkling" — Crying at 
Christening — "The Devil's Door" — Superstitions con- 
cerning the child's name — Choice of names — Unction of 
the Baptized — The Sacrament to be free — Confirmation — 



The Bishop's left hand — The age for Confirmation — Spon- 
sors at Confirmation— Unction at Confirmation — The linen 
fillets — Volowing and Btshopping. ... ... ... ... 154 

Chapter IX. Folk-lore and Customs of Marriage. — 
Banns — The words Banns, Spurrings, and Sibrit — 
"Falling over the Pulpit"— Superstitions concerning 
banns — ** Mocking the Church" — Lawful and unlawful 
seasons for marriage — Lucky and unlucky days — Sunday 
Weddings — The bride's dress — Her hair — Her veil — 
Marriage in a sheet — Bridesmaids — The bride's mother 
— The ** best man" — Flowers and rushes at Weddings 
— Marriage at the Church door — The Wedding-ring — 
Posies on rings — The ring-finger — Rush-rings — Puritan 
objections to the Wedding-ring — Superstitions about the 
ring — "Spousal offerings" — "I thee Worship" — The 
nuptial kiss — Curious Wedding customs — Wedding music. 178 

Chapter X. The Chancel and the Choir. — Primitive 
names for the Chancel — The Screen and Veils — Exclusion 
of the Laity— The Royal Prebend at S. David's — Primitive 
Chancels — Stalls — Misericordes — Decorations and lights — 
The Paschal candle — Candlemas — Flowers for S. Barnabas' 
Day— Ascension Day in Lichfield — Ball-playing by the 
Choristers — " Whip-dog Day " — Boy- Bishops — Antiphonal 
singing — Impressing Choristers — The Reformers on music 
—Carols — The Manx OieU Vetrey — Hymns and Metrical 
Psalms— Parish Clerks— The Parish Orchestra — The Organ 
— The Altar — Charms connected with il— A modern omen 
— '* Bible Orchard," S. Ives— Bowing towards the Altar 
— Altar-rails 203 

Chapter XI. Alms and Offerings.— Alms jn the Primi- 
tive Church — Lammas Day — Meaning of the word — 
Animal offerings in England — Banners and spoils of war 
— "Offering enemies" — Royal Epiphany and Maundy 
gifts — Alms in the Prayer-book — Offertory, meaning of 
the term — the Basin, Dish, Box, or Bag for the Alms — 
Charms with Church money — The "Sacrament Shilling" — 
Curious application of Church Alms — Patents and Briefs — 
Doles — Mortuaries — Gifts to Shrines — Thefts from Shrines 
— Relics still preserved in England. 230 

Chapter XII. Conclusion. — Changed regard for Folk-lore 
in recent times — The myth-making tendency of Human 
Nature — Underlying meanings. 252 

%ove anb Xegenb of tbe 
lEnQltsb (Tburcb. 



IN the nature of things it needs must be that a multitude 
of customs, often quaint and curious, is found in 
connection with every society of great antiquity. The mere 
fact of such long-continued existence implies that the roots 
of the organization in question are laid in an age when men 
were simple-minded and credulous, when critical skill was 
little known, and when to unscientific eyes the common 
things of every day were so full of inexplicable wonders that 
the supernatural seemed ever very close to the natural. 

But beyond all other societies it is to be expected that a 
wealth of folk-lore and legend should grow up around that 
divinely constituted society, the Church ; and this for several 
reasons. The message of the Church is largely concerned 
with those subjects which are specially fruitful in fanciful 
speculations, with the affairs of that mysterious realm which 
lies near enough to us to attract our interest, and yet too far 
from us to allow of our investigation. The mysteries of life 
and death, the vast, unfathomable oceans of the Heretofore 



and the Hereafter which meet about the narrow shores of 
Time Present, the influences which draw or drive us in our 
earthly course, and the connection between the character of 
the unknown future and the known, or partly known, present 
— these were neither new problems when the Church came as 
an authoritative teacher, nor had the sages and philosophers 
of old had any monopoly of speculation concerning them. 
It was not one of the priesthood, but a noble of the rude 
court of Edwin, King of Northumbria, that urged the common 
interest in these questions as a reason for listening to the 
words of S. Paulinus. " The present life of man on earth 
seems to me," so the Venerable Bede records him as saying, 
" in comparison with that time which is unknown to us, like 
the swift flight of a sparrow through the hall, as it enters by 
one door, and immediately flies out at another, what time 
you are sitting at supper, O King, with your chieftains and 
attendants about you, on a winter's night, while within a fire 
blazes on the hearth and the room glows with the warmth, 
and without storms of wintry rain and snow are everywhere 
raging : for the time that the bird is indoors it is unassailed 
by the tempest, but in the briefest of intervals, as it came 
from the winter's darkness, it is lost to our sight and returns 
to the winter's darkness again : so the life of man appears 
for a space, but of what follows, or of what went before, we 
know nothing." 

Similarly had many a thoughtful man reasoned with him- 
self; the problems of life and death, no less than the 
experience of them, occur in some sort to every man ; and 
consequently every religion strives to peer into the surround- 
ing mists, to learn somewhat for the guidance of its disciples 
here, and to encourage a hope for the hereafter. 


Christianity came then with a new message on a subject 
as old as the world, and one on which countless speculations 
were rife in the minds of men. And it was but to be 
expected that even believers in the new and clearer teaching 
should not be able, nor entirely willing, to shake off 
altogether the fancies in which they had before comforted 
themselves. Hence we find in all times and places tales 
of ghosts and apparitions, of witchcraft and Satanic agency, 
of fairies and goblins, — which are all evidences of the efforts 
of the human mind to realize something of the invisible 
world around him ; and hence, too, the theories concerning 
days, things, and actions which are lucky or unlucky, 
concerning charms and amulets, talismans and signs, — 
which are crude attempts to explain some of the mysteries 
of Providence. The spread of education is rapidly relegating 
many of these things to the limbo of extinct superstitions, 
but to several of them we may apply the dictum of Dr. 
Johnson on the subject of ghosts ; " it is wonderful that five 
thousand years have now elapsed since the creation of 
the world, and still it is undecided whether or not there has 
ever been an instance of the spirit of any person appearing 
after death ; all argument is against it, but all belief is 
for it." So scientific culture has shown itself as powerless 
as religious teaching to seriously affect the native credulity 
of men in some respects. 

But not every habit or custom in use before the 
foundation of the Church, even if it formed part of an 
idolatrous worship, was in itself superstitious. "The 
heathen in his blindness" might offer to the idol, which 
to him symbolized the debased and unworthy conception 
which he had formed of Deity, many an act of devotion 


which might laudably be rendered to the true God ; and 
thus many usages of heathen times were adopted by the 
Church and endowed with a Christian meaning. The 
Apostle S. Paul illustrates the spirit in which this was done, 
when with ready wit he obtains for himself a hearing from 
the sceptics and gossips of the Areopagus, by claiming for 
the Faith the altar to "the Unknown God." A more 
distinct example of this method of treating heathenism 
meets us in a letter from Pope Gregory the Great to 
the Abbot Mileto, written in 60 1. "The idol temples are 
not to be destroyed," says the pontiff, " but let the idols in 
them be destroyed ; let holy water be blessed and sprinkled 
in these temples, let altars be built and relics placed there ; 
and since they are accustomed to slay many oxen in 
sacrifice to demons, let them on the anniversary of the 
dedication, or on the birthdays of the holy martyrs, 
construct booths around those churches which were formerly 
temples, and celebrate the solemnity with religious festivity." 
It has also been well observed that in the primitive Church, 
a great many of the converts to which were slaves, it must 
often have been a matter almost of necessity to utilize 
heathen festivals for Christian purposes ; the freedom from 
the usual round of labours affording the little flock an 
opportunity too valuable to be neglected. Similarly the 
earliest Christian art was largely an adaptation of such 
heathen symbols as might be converted readily to the 
teaching of the truth. The trailing vine painted along the 
wall, or the simple figure of a shepherd bearing a Iambi 
spoke to the worshipper in the Catacombs of the declarations 
of the Saviour, " I am the true Vine," " I am the Good 
Shepherd;" yet to the heathen they were also familiar as 


suggestive of far different ideas. Thus does the 
Commendatore de Rossi speak of this subject, in his 
Roma Sotterranea ; "I have constantly observed in the 
subterranean cemeteries, that the early Christians possessed 
sculptured sarcophagi which bear no sign of Christian faith, 
and seem to have issued from Gentile workshops ; adorned 
with images of the firmament, scenes of shepherd life, 
agriculture, the chase, games, etc. The Christian inter- 
pretation given to agricultural or pastoral scenes, to 
personifications of the seasons, to dolphins and other 
marine creatures, is obvious and universally acknowledged. 
When the faithful could not obtain sarcophagi adorned with 
sacred sculpture, it is evident that they took great trouble in 
selecting those which contained nothing directly offensive to 
the faith, and did not represent idolatrous rites, images of false 
gods, or subjects too evidently belonging to Pagan theogony." 
What it was thus found necessary, or at least advisable, 
to do in matters of public festivals and in the use of art, 
would be still more naturally done in those countless 
smaller usages, which, connected only very indirectly with 
a specific form of faith or religion, had become part of man's 
mental habit towards those mysterious questions of which 
we have above spoken. And how tenaciously some details 
of the old faiths were clung to, by those who had neverthe- 
less embraced the new, is exhibited in a striking manner in 
several passages in the Acts of the Apostles^ and in the 
Epistles of S. Paul; where we find that even the leaders 
and rulers of the infant Church were still in several cases 
strenuous in upholding the whole of the details of the 
Mosaic economy. What we find there, doubtless took place 
all the world over in different forms and various degrees. 


It would be an error, however, to suppose that all the 
folk-lore of the Church, all the " superstitions," if you will, 
that the people have brought into it, or cultivated around it, 
are of heathen derivation. Every age produces its manners 
and customs, obvious enough in meaning and practical in 
purpose to itself, but quaint and curious survivals, or half- 
forgotten fragments of antiquity, to its successors. Even we 
in these closing years of the nineteenth century, when the 
tendency seems to be to eliminate the play of fancy, and to 
curb originality or idiosyncracy, so as to bring all to one 
monotonous level of life and action, — even we shall pro- 
bably be found by a future age to have evolved habits of 
thought and conduct, which will then appear as grotesque 
as those of past days not seldom do to us. Would that we 
might hope that our legacy of folk-lore will prove as full of 
lessons of tenderness and truth as in many cases our heritage 
has been. For it should not be forgotten that the chief 
interest of folk-lore is in the fact that it is a genuine growth 
from the convictions of the people ; the quaint custom, the 
weird legend, the venerable superstition, are not valuable 
only from an antiquarian point of view, but as necessary 
data for a true history of man, setting forth, as they do, his 
inmost faith, in those points to which he has clung most 

The existence of the Deity, and under Him of super- 
natural [)Owers both good and evil ; the immortality of the 
soul ; the value of propitiatory sacrifice, — these are some 
of the elementary articles in the creed of men, to which the 
folk lore of almost all ages and races bears witness. The 
folk-lore of the English Church shows us also, by customs 
that at first ap|>ear antagonistic in their sharp contrasts, the 


familiar affection, yet the profound veneration, which were 
felt for the Church herself and for all things consecrated 
to her service. Her sacramental system and apostolic 
ministry, her sacred vessels and solemn seasons, the con- 
secrated enclosure around her fanes, the very stones from 
their walls, and sods of their garths, all were regarded as 
specially blessed : yet withal the villagers held their wakes 
within the churchyards, and chatted and chaffered even 
within the naves of the churches, saw mountebanks climb 
their steeples, and watched the performance of miracle plays 
in consecrated buildings; without seeing anything incon- 
gruous in their conduct. 

Each fact in the almost boundless folk-lore of the country, 
however trivial or childish it may in itself appear, is the 
outward expression of a deep feeling once common among 
the people. Even those legends of bygone days, which it is 
the fashion to discuss as tissues of romantic superstition, 
have their meaning and their foundation. No one de- 
liberately invented the legends of the people, any more than 
anyone artificially created their customs ; such an attempt 
would have been utterly futile, for the creations would in 
either case have been entirely devoid of vitality. Ruskin in 
one of his minor works emphasizes the fact that there is a 
poetical truth as well as an historical truth, and that many a 
legend which is not history may be the vivid expression of 
an ethical fact. But we may go further, and aver that in 
almost all, if not in all, cases, the legends, like the customs, 
have arisen from the solid foundation of an historical fact. 
To take what may seem an extreme instance; of all the 
ecclesiastical legends of our land, which one has been more 
often treated as a merely ludicrous and absurd myth than 


that of the contest of S. Dunstan, the archbishop, with the 
arch-fiend ? And yet there is surely a most natural method 
of eiq>laining how such a strange story arose. The great 
archbishop, as is well known, was a master in the mechanical 
arts, and loved the fierce flame of his forge: what then 
more natural than for him to assert, or for it to be asserted 
of him, that when he was assailed by temptation, and 
especially sensual temptation, he fought the devil with his 
hammer and his tongs : meaning thereby that at such times, 
with practical good sense, he flung all his energies into the 
hard manual labour of his forge, and so drove off the attack 
of the evil one? And what, again, more likely than that such 
a statement should grow in the imagination of a simple age 
into the story of the devil, in the form of a beautiful woman, 
tempting the saint and being repelled by his glowing tongs ? 
In some such manner, doubtless, have most of our legends 
and folk-lore tales been built up, enshrining a truth some- 
times poetically, sometimes (as here) more quaintly, yet 
having ever that truth within them, which has been the life- 
giving and sustaining force to them during the ages. 

Another point which helps to account for the multiplicity 
and variety of our Church folk-lore is the fact that in past 
days the offices of the Church entered so fully into the lives 
of the people. That religion has not its share now in the 
every-day life of many, and especially in all the important 
events and crises of their career, it would be wrong to 
assume : but it certainly is true that no public evidence of 
the fact is given now to the extent that it was of old. Then 
the annual wake or fair began with the observance of the 
dedication festival of the parish church ; each trade, organized 
into a company or fraternity, began its yearly feast by atten- 


dance at mass, and in many cases maintained its own altar 
in the church, and paid its own chaplain ; and one of the 
most joyous days in the year was the one on which, with 
song and merriment, the whole parish helped to gather rushes 
to strew the church floor, and brought them home. In days, 
too, when there was little of movement from place to place, 
and most men died within sight of the spot where they had 
been bom ; when moreover no one yet had separated himself 
from the Mother Church of the land, the parish church and 
all that pertained to it were necessarily more to the people 
generally than they are now. At its font everyone had been 
baptized, before its altar every man and wife haS plighted 
their troth, around its grey walls all the forefathers of the 
living generation slept their long sleep, and thither all felt 
they would themselves be borne when their time came. 
Amidst all " the changes and chances of this mortal life," 
the birth and death of men, the growth and fall of the green 
woodlands, the times of peace and the passage across the 
acres of grim war, the one thing that stood unchanged in the 
memory of all, from the cradle to the grave, was the great 
grey church ; the one voice that was never hushed in death, 
the constant tolling and pealing of her sonorous bells. What 
wonder then that affection and imagination joined with faith 
and history to weave a many-coloured web of mingled fact 
and fancy around those time-worn walls ? 

In a field so wide as the folk-lore of the English Church, 
it becomes necessary to make a selection of subjects, if one's 
treatment of it is neither to be inconveniently bulky, nor 
disappointingly general For all that affects the life and 
death of man, and all that deals with supernatural powers 
and the unseen world, might reasonably be included within 


its scope. In the following pages, therefore, an endeavour 
will be made to keep rigidly within the limits of a narrow 
interpretation of our title. Only such folk-lore and legends 
as concern the fabric of the Church, its precincts, and its 
services will be reviewed. The funeral train has no interest 
for us until it arrives at the lych-gate, the wedding party 
leaves our sight when it leaves the churchyard ; but all that 
happens within the limits of those walls, so far as it has given 
rise to customs quaint or curious, or to charms and super- 
stitions that are noteworthy, all this we will consider the 
legitimate subject of our present discussion. 


ZJH (§nmn$ of f^ C^urc^. 

FOR how many ages the sites occupied by some of our 
churches have been esteemed by the people as holy 
ground, it would be hard to conjecture. The parish priest 
who is able to say that his parish possessed a church when 
Domesday Book was compiled, feels a certain natural pride 
in the guardianship of so ancient a foundation ; yet it is 
unquestionable that in many instances the spot was regarded 
with veneration for ages before that date, in fact long before 
S. Joseph of Arimathea could have set foot, according to 
tradition, in the island, and reared his little sanctuary of 
interwoven branches at Glastonbury. 

Not a few of our oldest churches occupy the sites of 
heathen temples. In the first days of the triumph of 
Christianity over Paganism in Europe, the natural tendency 
was to destroy, not only the idols, but the buildings also, 
which their presence and their often impure rites had polluted. 
Thus under Constantine and Valentinian many temples were 
totally demolished. In the time of Theodosius, however, 
another and more sober plan was adopted; and the 
idolatrous shrines, purified from falsehood and dedicated to 
the truth, became Christian churches; and an edict of 
Honorius (408 a.d.) definitely forbade the destruction of 
any more temples, at least in the cities, on the ground that 
they could be turned to public use when their Pagan 


decorations had been removed. A writer of the middle of 
the fifth century, Prosper the Aquitanian, asserts that this 
emperor gave over the temples and their precincts to the 
Church. Instructions for the adaptation of such places to 
Christian purposes were quoted in the last chapter, as given 
by S. Gregory the Great in the beginning of the seventh 
century ; and there can be little question that the practice 
then recommended was adopted so far as opportunity 
served. S. Paul's Cathedral is alleged to cover and 
consecrate ground once occupied by a temple dedicated to 
Diana, and it is highly probable that a similar conversion 
has taken place in many of the towns which were at one 
time Roman settlements. But there are facts which are 
supposed to take us back to faiths extant in Britain even 
before Caesar and his legions invaded its shores. 

There are, for instance, in Wales a number of churches 
dating for the most part from the Norman period of 
architecture, which stand in churchyards circular or oval in 
sha{>e. Such are the churches of Llanfechain and Kerry, in 
Montgomeryshire, of Llanarmon and Cilcenin, in Carnarvon- 
shire, Tremeirchion in Flintshire, and in Denbighshire, 
Derwen, Efenechtyd, Cerrig-y-druidion, Bettws-Gwerfil- 
Grx:h, JJan-Elidan, and Llandyrnog. The remarkable fact 
concerning these churchyards is not merely that their form 
is singular, but that they are usually environed by a road, 
for which there is no obvious public requirement. It is, 
moreover, well known that the Celtic inhabitants of this 
island affected a circular form for their sacred enclosures, a 
fact that is illustrated by circles of ponderous stones in many 
places. The best known instance of these is at Stonehenge, 
and the memory of them is still kept alive by some of the 


Druidic ceremonies with which a modern Eisteddfod is 
inaugurated. The common situation of these temples of the 
Celtic Pagans, consisting of "stone pillars in one or two 
circular rows," was "the centife of some thick grove or 
wood, watered by a consecrated river or fountain, and 
surrounded by a ditch or mound, to prevent the intrusion of 
improper persons."* 

Putting these items of evidence together, we must admit 
that it is at least a reasonable theory which sees in these 
circular churchyards, girded by a public way, wherein 
Christian ntes have now been celebrated for many hundreds 
of years, an indication of holy grounds of untold antiquity, 
within which it may be that for thousands of years the 
Pagan worship flourished. In this case we must suppose 
that the Church, having won to her side the majority of the 
people, set up her altar within the enclosure which, in their 
minds, had already long enjoyed a sacred character ; and 
the road, which now so aimlessly surrounds the churchyard, 
marks the ancient rampart which separated it from common 
ground, or (as at Efenechtyd) the ancient bed of the stream 
which served the same purpose, t 

Another mark, or probable mark, of the annexation of the 
holy places of heathenism by the Church is the neighbourhood 
of a well or spring. The reverence felt of old for such 
natural objects is well known. Milton's intimate knowledge 
of classical usages transfers to the Severn a custom common 
enough in Italy, in the familiar lines of his " Comus " : — 

* " The Religion of Ancient Britain," by Geo. Smith, ll.d., f.a.s. 
(Longmans, 1846.), p. 40. 

t See an article on this subject by the Rev. E. Owen, M.A., F.s.A., 
in * * Antiquities and Curiosities of the Church. *' (Andrews & Co. , 1 897. ) 


'*The shepherds* at their festivals 
Carol her goodness loud in rustic lays, 
And throw sweet garland wreaths into her stream 
Of pansies, pinks, and gaudy daffodils.'* 

But, indeed, the worship of clear, cool water, whether in 
still pool or in rippling stream, was not peculiar to any 
in3rthology, and was practised in all parts of the world. 
Italy had her feasts of fontinaiia, and Derbyshire and 
Staffordshire delighted in their well-dressing, ages before the 
custom became allied to Christian festivals. The naiads, 
nymphs of river, lake, and fountain, were endowed by their 
votaries with oracular and prophetic powers; and were 
propitiated with offerings of milk, oil, and honey, and the 
sacrifice of lambs. Borlase, in his " Natural History of 
Cornwall," speaking of the miraculous efficacy ascribed to 
some waters, says, "The Castalian fountain, and many 
others among the Grecians, were supposed to be of a 
prophetic nature ; by dipping a fair mirror into a well the 
Patrseans of Greece received, as they supposed, some notice 
of ensuing sickness or health, from the various forms 
portrayed upon the surface ; in Laconia they cast into a 
pool sacred to Juno cakes of bread-corn ; if they sunk, good 
was portended, if they swam, something dreadful was to 
ensue." The same authority says, that " The Druids (as we 
have reason to think) pretended to predict future events 
from holy wells and running streams." We have already 
seen, in a quotation given above, that these latter chose for 
the erection of their sacred circles spots watered by streams 
and fountains; and there are wells in the country whose 
names still testify to the regard in which our Saxon fore- 
fathers held them ; for we still possess, besides the many 


wells dedicated to Christian saints, a Woden's well and a 
Thor's well. There are in England some hundreds of wells 
that are reputed to this day to be " holy," the county of 
York alone containing nearly seventy ; and we may safely 
conclude not only that all these obtained their sacred 
character at a very remote period, but that they are the 
survivals of a belief at one time more widely spread. 

Recollecting these facts, therefore, it is interesting to find 
several of our most ancient churches standing in close 
proximity to wells. At East Dereham there is a well in the 
churchyard, at the west end of the church ; at Bisley, in 
Gloucestershire, is the ruin of a churchyard cross which 
covers a well, now dry. About two hundred yards from the 
church of S. Tecla, Virgin and Martyr, at Llandegla in 
Wales, is a spring now named after the saint ; at Jesmond, 
near Newcastle-on-Tyne, a well and a chapel formerly stood 
in close connection ; at Lichfield are similarly found the 
church and well of S. Chad ; in Somersetshire, the church 
of S. Decuman at Watchet claims to have stood hard by the 
holy well since the year 400 ; in Shropshire, we have the 
parish church of Stoke S. Milborough (Milburga) close to a 
well of the same dedication ; S. Cuthbert's well is near 
Donington Church, and the monastic houses of Wenlock 
Priory and of the friary at Ludlow both include wells of 
reputed sanctity within their walls. 

Scotland supplies examples in the well and the ruined 
chapel of S. Laurence, at Little Dunkeld, Perthshire, another 
at Musselburgh, and that of S. Fillan, at StrathfiUan. 

From all these instances it seems almost impossible to 
escape the conclusion that the early Christian teachers, 
taking advantage of the sacredness which they found already 


ascribed to wells and springs, in many cases erected their 
first rude churches by the side of them. It is true that 
water was, and is, required in the services of the Church ; its 
proximity would be convenient for the administration of 
Holy Baptism, and in the primitive ages it was usual for the 
worshippers to wash their hands, ere entering the church, at a 
fountain or basin provided in the outer courts. Eusebius, 
Paulinus of Nola, and Socrates the historian, all speak of 
the provision of such a means of lustration ; and S. Chry- 
sostom and TertuUian refer to its use. But even if this 
practice were known in Britain, it does not destroy, but 
rather confirms, our contention. The presence of water, so 
readily to hand for these purposes, would be an added reason 
for occupjdng the site which Paganism, on account of that 
presence, had held to be holy. 

The sites of some churches have been, according to legend, 
miraculously assigned to them. Everyone who is familiar 
with the north country knows the story of the foundation of 
Durham's glorious cathedral. In the days when Norse 
pirates were harrying our eastern coasts, the monks of Lindis- 
fame were compelled to seek refuge on the main land, and, 
exhuming the relics of S. Cuthbert as their most precious 
treasure, they carried them with them. For some years they 
found no permanent resting-place, but wandered over 
Northumbria, halting now here, now there. For some time 
Chester-le-Street gave them shelter ; but the storm that had 
driven them inland was now felt far beyond the coasts, and 
they fled again, this time to Ripon. At last they essayed to 
make their way back once more to Chester-le-Street with the 
hope of being allowed to settle there, and they had journeyed 
as far as " a place called Ward Law," east of the site of Dur- 


ham, when they were checked, by a new and strange difficulty: 
the bier of S. Cuthbert stuck fast, and not all their combined 
skill and force availed to stir it. Perceiving that this was 
the result of no ordinary cause, the little company fasted 
and prayed for the space of three days, that the divine 
purpose might be revealed to them ; and their devotion was 
rewarded by the revelation that they were to carry their 
holy burden to Dunholme. But this caused only further 
perplexity, for no one knew where Dunholme lay, or in what 
direction to seek for it. While they were thus wondering 
what was to be done, they heard a woman in the distance 
crying to a neighbour that she had lost her cow, and asking 
whether she had b); chance seen it ; the answer was that the 
cow had strayed to Dunholme, and that there it would 
be found. Full of gratitude for the sign, the monks 
endeavour to follow the woman, and at once the bier moves 
on without further difficulty ; and their unconscious guide 
leads them to that spot amid the windings of the Wear, 
which the towers of Durham and the holy shrine of S. 
Cuthbert have since made famous. Such is the story told in 
the " Rites of Durham," and for ages it has been commemo- 
rated on the external face of the north-west pinnacle of the 
Nine Altars Chapel of the cathedral by the carving of 
a woman and a cow. 

Supernatural intimation was given also of the site for 
Cartmel Church in Lancashire. A company of monks had 
journeyed into the country, and had selected a certain hill 
within Cartmel Forest as a suitable spot for a settlement. 
They had already marked out the ground which their 
church was to occupy, when a Voice, speaking to them out 
of illimitable space, said " Not here, but in a valley between 



two rivers, whereof the one runs north and the other south ! " 
Much the brethren marvelled where such a spot could be ; 
but obedient to the command, they left their chosen place 
and set forth to seek the one appointed. After much 
fruitless search they came upon a wooded valley, in the 
midst of which was a morass, from which a sluggish stream 
flowed northward ; wading through this they found that the 
marsh was bounded on the further side by a similar stream 
which wended its way to the south ; while midway between 
them was a small eminence forming an island among the 
silent, sullen waters. Here, therefore, they reared their 
church, and dedicated it in the name of S. Mary ; while 
on that hill top where the wondrous Voice had spoken to 
them they raised a small chapel in honour of S. Bernard, 
whence the spot is still called Bernard's Mount. 

We of to-day, whose chief difficulty in erecting a church 
is raising the funds to pay for it, have no idea of the 
manifold difficulties with which our forefathers had to 
contend, even in the preliminary stages of their work. 
Spirits, sometimes good, sometimes evil, put forth their 
powers to interfere with the building, the site selected being 
frequently objected to for some reason by these invisible 
agents. Stories illustrating this are found scattered through- 
out all parts of Great Britain ; sometimes in a form not 
unlike that which has just been quoted concerning Cartmel. 
In these, one site having been chosen, an intimation is 
conveyed to the workers, by a voice or in some other 
mysterious way, that another will prove more suitable, or 
more acceptable to God. Other legends are of a much 
wilder kind, and tell of the forcible removal of partly-built 
churches by fairies, devils, witches, or by unseen hands, 


or by spirits in the forms of various animals. There is 

a great similarity between many of these tales, so that a few 

examples will be amply sufficient. 

Of legends of the first of these two classes the following 

are specimens. Masons were at one time employed on a 

church which was to be built where the Cynwyd Bridge 

crosses the River Dee, but a warning was conveyed to them 

that the proper site for it was one at which a white stag 

would be started while they were hunting. In due course 

the omen was fulfilled; and there a church was erected, 

and was known as Llan-garw-gwyn, or " the Church of the 

white stag," a name since abbreviated into Llangar. 

Another Welsh legend tells how a voice cried continually to 

the builders of a church at a place now called Glanfread- 


** Llanfihangel Geneu'r Glyn, 
Glanfread-fawr gaiff fod £a,n hyn." 

that is 

" Llanfihangel Geneu'r Glyn, 
Glanfread-fawr shall stand herein." 

This was taken as an intimation that the church (Llanfi- 
hangel) should be built at Geneu'r Glyn, a farm occupying 
the spot originally selected. At Wrexham, too, we are told 
that the site at first chosen for the church was Bryn-y- 
Hynnon, but that a spirit-voice disturbed the builders by 
ever crying over them " Bryn-y-Grog ! " (Hill of the Cross), 
until they transferred their labours thither, and built where 
now Wrexham Church stands. Cornwall has a similar 
legend of Talland Church. A place called Pulpit, nearer 
the centre of the parish, had been selected for building 
upon, but here, too, a mysterious cry was heard night after 


** If you will my wish fulfil, 
Build the church on Talland Hill." 

And at length in obedience to this direction the place 
indicated, which lies near the sea, was adopted. In these 
last instances, the warning of the voice was supplemented 
and emphasised by the nightly destruction by unseen hands 
of each day's work. 

At Hanchurch and at Walsall, in Staffordshire, the 
original site interfered in some way with the doings of the 
fairies; and consequently these little folk persistently 
removed the materials, until finally the merely human 
builders were forced to yield to their will. The fairies, too, 
are credited by some (though others say, spirits) with 
carrying off the stones of Llanllechia Church, near Bangor, 
from a field named Cae'r Capel. The more malevolent 
influence of witches is alleged to have been employed for 
the same purpose at Wendover, Buckinghamshire ; though 
here also some versions of the story speak again of fairies. 

At Breedon, Leicestershire, the church stands upon a hill, 
which overlooks the village, the ascent to it being so steep 
that the footpath is in some places cut into steps, while the 
carriage road is compelled to take a most circuitous course. 
The explanation of the use of this most inconvenient 
position, is that doves carried hither by night all that the 
workmen could construct by day on a sf)Ot situated in the 
midst of the village. The agent of the removal at Leyland, 
Lancashire, is alleged to have been a cat ; at Llanfair 
Dyffryn Clwyd, " a phantom in the shape of a sow's head ;" 
and at Winwick a pig. In this last instance we must 
acquit the animal from the charge of being merely a satanic 
manifestation, as in some other cases is suggested, since it 


was to do honour to S. Oswald, the martyr king of 
Northumbria, that it persisted in conveying the stones to 
the exact site of the martjn'dom. Several Cornish churches 
were moved from one spot to another during their erection 
by the Devil himself, who was helped in the work at 
Altamon, in that county, by a hare and a deer. The 
materials for the chapel of S. Chad, Rochdale, were 
conveyed by unseen hands from the chosen site to a 
neighbouring hill top ; Capel Garmon Church, which was to 
have been reared upon a hill and near an ancient spring, 
was removed in a similar fashion to a lower position ; and 
Corwen Church was pulled down repeatedly, until the 
builders submitted to its erection beside the " Pointed stone 
in the icy nook" (Carreg y Big yn y fach rewlyd). The 
Devil carried the stones with which Worfield Church, in 
Shropshire, was building on a hill, down to a lower site ; 
and in the same county we meet with stories of how two 
milk-white oxen, by the nightly destruction of the work, 
compelled the masons to place Broughton Church in the 
valley, of how Baschurch Church would have been upon 
Berth Hill but for similar uncanny interference, and how 
the position of the old church of Stoke-upon-Tem was 
determined in a like manner. 

Stories of the same kind are told of the churches of 
Plympton S. Mary, of Brent Tor, and of Braunton, in 
Devonshire, of Waldron, Udimore, and Alfriston, in Sussex, 
and of many other places. The site which was finally 
occupied in the last-named instance was indicated by four 
oxen asleep in a meadow, and so lying that their bodies 
formed a cross. 

Two legends of a far more fearsome kind reach us from 


Ireland and Scotland respectively. The first tells how S. 
Patrick was endeavouring to erect a church on a great rock 
at Cashel, but that every night a bull of terrible size, from 
whose nostrils fire flashed, charged at his walls and entirely 
demolished them; and the opposition was only ended by 
Usheen, the disciple of the saint, dropping on to the back 
of the bull from a tree under which it rushed, and tearing 
it into two by its horns ! In proof of which story the figure 
of Usheen astride the bull was, so it is said, carved within 
the church. 

Yet more ghastly is the Scottish tale, which recounts how 
S. Columba received supernatural information that his walls 
at lona could not be prevented from falling as fast as they 
were built, except by burying a human victim in their 
foundation ; and how Oran, the saint's companion, offered 
himself, or was chosen by lot, for the purpose. The legend 
cannot be accepted as historical. 

There is abundant evidence that it was a superstition in 
Pagan England that stability could only be assured in a new 
building by offering a sacrifice at its foundation ; and the 
idea seems to be one of those which are common to man in 
a state of barbarism. In modern times, instances have been 
quoted from Africa, Borneo, and New Zealand, where 
human or animal sacrifice has taken place on such an 
occasion, or where at least the tradition of it survives as a 
usage but recently in vogue. It has, therefore, been argued 
with plausibility that in most of these stories, especially 
those in which the agency of animals occurs, we have a 
vague reminiscence of a similar belief; human sacrifice 
having been the service demanded in the most savage times, 
and animal-life being the substituted ofiering of later days. 


which were yet not fully emancipated from their Pagan 

Other theories, however, have been propounded to 
account for some of these curious stories, which occur with 
such remarkable frequency not only in all parts of Great 
Britain, but also in other lands. It will have been noted 
that in several instances one of the two sites between which 
the contest is waged is a hill top, as for example at Breedon, 
Rochdale, Capel Garmon, and in all the Shropshire 
instances. Bearing in mind the sacred rites which fire- 
worshipping inhabitants of these islands performed upon 
such spots, it has been conjectured that in these curious 
legends we have a record of a similar process to that already 
alluded to, in the occupation of the holy places of Paganism 
by the Church ; these traditions having for their historical 
foundation the struggles that took place between the 
adherents of the new faith and those of the old, ere, in 
some cases at least, that occupation could be made good. 

A far more prosaic explanation seems obvious in some 
instances. When we are told, for example, that the owner 
of the site on which the church is built was unwilling to 
sell it, until convinced of his duty by the story of the 
miraculous indication concerning it, it is not difficult to 
understand how the story arose. In other cases the 
opposition of a landowner, or the dislike of the people, to an 
inconvenient site, may well have been overcome by one of 
these tales of wonder. It is notable that Llanllechid is 
almost the only church occurring in these legends in which 

* See an interesting article, ** Some Traditions and Superstitions 
connected with Buildings," by G. L. Gomme, in 7'Ae Antiquary for 
January, i88i (Vol. iii., p. 3). 


the final situation was more convenient than the earlier 

On the tower of Winwick Church the story of its erection 
is kept alive (as is that of the indication of the site at 
Durham) by a carving; above the western door is the 
figure of a pig, with the following '' dog-Latin " verses, 

" I lie hjcus, Oswalde, quondam placuit tibi valde, 
Northanhumbronim fueras Rex, nuncque polonim 
Kegna tenet, loco pasfus Marcelde vocato,'' 

which, turned into English of the same stamp, run thus — 

" O Oswald, lately this place pleased thee greatly ; 
King of Northumbrians, thou above the heavens now 
Dost live and reign, though at Marcelde slain." 

One is not surprised to find that the malice of the evil 
powers was not vanquished by their defeat, nor appeased 
by their victory, in the contest concerning the site of a 
church. At Rudston, Yorkshire, for instance, the Devil 
made a desperate effort to destroy the building, and the 
evidence remains to this day. Within the churchyard 
stands a monolith, some twenty-four feet in height above 
the ground, and supposed to reach to an equal depth below, 
the weight being computed at about forty tons. This, the 
local legend alleges, was flung at the church by his Satanic 
majesty ; but luckily in this, as in other somewhat similar 
cases, his malice and his might were not equalled by his 
accuracy as a marksman, and the huge missile fell short by 
a few yards. It is suggested that we have here another 
example of the consecration to Christian usage of a spot 
held in reverence by the Pagans, for a tradition of the super- 
natural appears to have attached to this stone from remote 
antiquity, and the name of the village is alleged to mean 


"the famous stone/' from the Scandinavian "hrodrsteinn." 
Legends of this type are more common on the Continent 
than with us : throughout northern Germany and Scan- 
dinavia, a story similar to the one above is a usual method 
of explaining the presence of isolated rocks, but some giant 
or trolly and not the Devil, is the assailant of the church. 

In curious opposition to the theory of the sanctity of holy 
ground — as illustrated by the rights of sanctuary, and in 
other ways — ^are a number of weird legends of the diabolical 
possession of certain churches. These stories meet us 
chiefly in Wales and in the Isle of Man, the traditions of 
both districts being often singularly wild and gruesome. 

Within Cerrig-y-drudion Church once dwelt a malevolent 
spirit, which grinned so horribly from the windows at all who 
passed by, that even in the day-time all avoided the place. 
At last, on the advice of a " wise man,'' two famous oxen of 
great strength were procured, and the spirit was, after great 
efforts, secured and bound to a sledge drawn by them ! 
Away rushed the team with the hideous load, ploughing the 
land deep as they went, and marking the very rocks with 
their hoofs ; and at last oxen, sledge, and the madly 
struggling spirit plunged into a neighbouring lake, and 
disappeared for ever. Llanfor Church has a legend similar 
in several of its details, though the spirit in this appears to 
have been harmless and even fairly well-behaved. It took 
the form of a gentleman in a cocked-hat ; and by day made 
itself chiefly conspicuous by attending divine service, and 
standing throughout it. At night, however, he indulged 
in a blaze of light within the church, though if others came 
in, when it happened to be dark, to look for anything, the 
spirit blew their lights out. The ejection in this case was 


managed in an orderly manner. Two j)ersons skilled in 
such matters called upon the intruder, and informed him of 
their intention to come at a certain hour of night and convey 
him to a lake and " lay *' him ; and apparently no further 
trouble would have arisen, but that the two did not keep 
their appointment punctually. This nettled the cocked- 
hatted gentleman, and led to some opposition on his part ; 
but finally he was got out, and in the form of a cock was 
carried on horse-back to the lake, and persuaded to jump 
in ; and there he must remain until he has counted all the 
sand at the bottom of it. There are versions of this storv 
varying in detail ; in one, for instance, the spirit becomes 
not a cock, but a pig. A terrible struggle took place in 
Llandysilis Church between a spirit (who during his 
residence there had cracked some of the beams) and a man 
who sought to eject him. The final act is precisely the 
same as in the former stories ; the spirit is drowned in a 
pool, but in this case on being overcome the enemy took 
the form of a huge fly. There is a Manx tale to the effect 
that a Buggane^ an evil spirit, would not permit the 
completion of the church of S. Trinian ; for as soon as the 
work was at the point of terminating, the fiend would fling 
the roof off amid yells of devilish laughter. Only once was 
an attempt made to withstand him, and then no practical 
result was attained beyond proving the temerity of one 
Master Timothy, a tailor. This local hero vowed that he 
would sit in the almost finished church and make a pair of 
breeches, before the fiend could again destroy the roof. 
Timothy worked with might and main, and refused to have 
his attention distracted, though the Buggane rose before 
him out of the ground, terrible in huge limbs and vast head 


with wide and awful eyes. Just as the apparition had wholly 
revealed its size and form, the tailor put the last stitch to his 
work, and sprang from the building, and once more the roof 
fell with a crash. England is not entirely without stories of a 
somewhat parallel kind, though they are not so numerous. 
The tale of the ** Roaring Bull o' Bagbury," in Shropshire, 
has many points of similarity to those told above. In this 
case, however, the objectionable occupant of the church was 
the restless soul of a certain farmer or "squire," who, in the 
form of a bull, so disturbed the neighbourhood that he was 
at last driven into the church at Hyssington, in order that he 
might the more easily be "laid." "Twelve parsons" 
assembled to lay him, and entered the church armed with 
candles. The bull in his rage blew out all the candles but 
one, and cracked the wall of the church, and the cracks may 
be seen to this day. At last, however, he was so 
over-powered that he was got into a snuff-box ! And was 
thus laid in the Red Sea for a thousand years. 

In these legends, some of which are almost childish in 
their wild marvels, any meaning is not at first obvious. But 
may we not see in them, especially in those of Welsh and 
Manx origin, the survival of ancient memories concerning the 
struggles between a new and an old faith ? The conquest 
of Paganism by Christianity, and especially the acquisition of 
the holy places of the former by the latter, may, perhaps, be the 
kernel of historic truth thus strangely wrapped up in legend ; 
but some have thought that a struggle and a conquest yet 
earlier, between rival forms of heathenism, have probably 
lived on in the recollection of the people, and now meet us 
in this weird guise. In any case a complete victory won by 
one party, and apparently a signal vengeance inflicted upon 


the Other, reminding one of the conclusion of Elijah's 
contest with the priests of Baal on Mount Carmel, seems to 
be not obscurely suggested. 

The earliest churches of Christendom were probably 
oblong in figure, often with a semi-circular termination, or 
apse, eastwards ; but when the faithful became rich enough, 
and had liberty allowed them, to build churches openly, 
and after such designs as they wished, different ground-plans 
were adopted, according to fancy or local custom. The 
" Apostolical Constitutions," a work dating probably from the 
fourth or fifth century, orders that " the building be long, 
with its head to the east, with its vestries on both sides 
at the east end, and so it will be like a ship ; in the middle 
let the bishop's throne be placed, and on each side of him 
let the priesthood sit down." Yet the churches erected 
at Antioch by the Emperor Constantine, and at Nazianzum 
by the father of S. Gregory, were octagonal ; the church of 
the Holy Sepulchre, founded by the same emperor, was 
circular ; and at an early date cruciform churches were 
built in some places, as in the examples of the one dedicated 
to the Holy Apostles at Constantinople, and one built 
by S. Simeon Stylites, and described by Evagrius. 

In England it is very evident that the earliest churches 
were humble structures, suitable to the means and the taste 
of a people but just emerging from barbarism. A simple 
parallelogram would doubtless be the form commonly 
chosen, with walls of timber and roof of thatch. In the 
quaint little church at Greenstead we have an example 
of such a building, which, so far as the major part of it 
is concerned, has probably weathered the storms of well-nigh 
nine centuries. It is only fair, however, to admit that 


in this case the stracture was probably only meant originally 
as a chapel ; there is ample evidences, however, of 
ecclesiastical erections of greater importance having been 
formed in much the same primitive fashion. The great 
abbey of Croyland was, as Ingulphus tells us, built origin- 
ally of logs and planks ; and such also was Malmesbury 
Abbey m the days of King Edgar, and Glastonbury in those 
of Canute. Finan, the successor of S. Aidan in the see of 
Lindisfame, built himself a church on the island *' of hewn 
oak covered with reeds ; " and it was the strangeness of the 
sight of a church built of stone by S. Ninian that gained 
its name for Whitheme, or White House, in Galloway. 
Durham still had a wooden chapel of S. Aldhdm down 
to 998, and at Bury S. Edmunds one survived so late 
as 1303.* 

S. Edward the Confessor is reputed to have introduced 
cruciform churches into England in the erection of West- 
minster Abbey ; and that ground-plan has since been adopted 
for almost all our larger churches, and for many of the 
smaller ones. The legend, which has already been noticed, 
to the effect that four cows lying crosswise both indicated 
the site and suggested the form of the church at Alfiiston, 
seems to point to a time when the cruciform design was not 
recognised as in any way a common one in the country. 

A form more curious and less usual is the circular, of 
which several examples are to be found in England. 

Allusion has already been made to the round church 
which was originally built over the alleged site of the Holy 

* See the qaesdon of wooden churches, or stave-kirks, treated at 
some length by the author in ** The Church Treasury of History, 
Custom, Folk-Lore, etc** (Andrews & Co., 1898.) 


Sepulchre ; and it is the memory of this venerable building 
which is p>erpetuated in our churches of a similar design. 
The Knights Templars in the Preceptories which they 
erected throughout Europe preserved the form of that 
sacred place which they had been specially enrolled to 
defend ; and it is to them that we owe our round churches. 
In the Temple Church, in London, we have "the chief 
ecclesiastical edifice of the Knights Templars in Britain, and 
the most beautiful and perfect memorial of the Order now in 
existence." The rotunda was erected about the year 1185, 
the rest being added during the following century. S. 
Sepulchre's, Cambridge, is the oldest of the group of buildings 
of this type still surviving in England. The rotunda here is 
of Norman architecture, and to this a chancel was added 
about 1 31 3. Northampton has another round church, also 
dedicated in the name of S. Sepulchre. The characteristic 
portion was built in the end of the eleventh century, and to 
this large additions were made at later times. The only 
other example, and the smallest, is at Little Maplestead, in 
Essex. This parish was granted to the Templars by the 
Lady Juliana de Burgo in 1186, and the buildings were 
probably commenced soon afterwards. The rotunda measures 
only thirty feet in diameter, and from this runs a chancel 
another thirty feet in length, but only fifteen in width. At 
the commencement of this century this interesting little 
church stood roofless and well-nigh ruined. It has since 
been repaired, but necessarily at the cost of much of the 
original work. A yet smaller round church stood at one 
time on the heights of Dover ; its diameter being but twenty- 
five feet, and its chancel measuring twenty-seven by fourteen. 
Only the foundations now remain of this ancient edifice, in 


which, tradition says, took place the conference between 
King John and the legate Pandulf. There are many Con- 
tinental examples of churches of this kind, at Laon, Metz, 
Cologne, Treves, Salamanca, Bologne, Rome, and elsewhere. 

The custom of placing the chancel and altar at the east 
end of the church, though ancient and everywhere common, 
has scarcely anywhere been preserved so scrupulously as in 
England. A quotation given above from the "Apostolic 
Constitutions," proves its early use in the east, and observa- 
tion only is needed to show its prevalence in the west. Yet 
Stephen, bishop of Tournay, in a letter to Lucius III., pope 
from 1 181 to II 85, speaks of this orientation as a peculiarity 
at S. Benet's, Paris ; and there are churches in Italy where 
the altar stands at the west end. An exception to what was 
certainly the primitive rule in England is exceedingly rare 
among churches of any antiquity. In more modern structures 
the nature of the only possible site in a crowded town, or 
the carelessness or ignorance of those responsible for the 
erection, have sometimes violated the ancient custom. Thus 
two small, and comparatively modern, churches in Lincoln- 
shire are exceptions. At Well the altar stands at the west 
end, the entrance being at the east ; at Eastville the church 
stands north and south, with the altar at the south. Prob- 
ably the builder of the latter was not aware that S. Patrick 
had set him a precedent ; yet the Apostle of the Irish, ac- 
cording to Jocelin, his biographer, erected a church in that 
manner at Sabul, near Down, in Ulster. 

Though the orientation of our churches has been for the 
most part preserved, yet it is not an uncommon thing for 
them to vary several points from due east and w^st. There 
is a theory that the exact degree of inclination was deter- 


mined by marking the spot on the horizon at which the sun 
rose, on the feast day of the saint in whose honour the church 
was to be dedicated. The theory is ingenious, and possibly 
has an amount of truth in it with regard to some instances ; 
but it can hardly be counted as more than a theory. 

There are many curious facts and stories in connection 
with the raising of funds for building churches in mediaeval 
times. In a very large number of instances our parish 
churches were built at the sole charge of some wealthy and 
pious lord of the manor, or by some great monastic house ; 
even in such vast structures as our cathedrals much was 
also done voluntarily, the monks being their own architects, 
sculptors, and masons in many cases. But in bygone 
times, as well as in modern ones, it was not always that the 
needful funds came readily to the hands of those who 
desired to build. 

Any place which possessed an attraction for pilgrims was 
glad to turn that fact to account for the improvement of its 
church. It was the offerings at the shrine of S. Wilfrid 
which assisted in the completion of the Collegiate Church, 
now the Cathedral, of Ripon ; and the east window at 
Rochester is the fruit of the alms-box beside the shrine of 
S. William of Perth ; and these are but types of what went 
on throughout the country in those early days. Again it 
frequently happened that a gild or confraternity would 
undertake to build, or it may be to keep in repair, some 
portion of a church. Ludlow Church has an iron arrow 
affixed to the roof of the north chancel aisle, marking the 
fact that that portion of the church is the Fletchers' chancel, 
or chantry chapel of the gild of arrowsmiths. It is surely 
reasonable to suppose that the chapel thus marked with 


their emblem was built wholly, or largely, at their expense. 
The local legend used to be (it seems to have died out 
now) that Robin Hood, standing on one of the tumuli hard 
by, which is still called by his name, aimed with his bow 
and arrow at the weathercock on the steeple ; but that his 
arrow, missing the mark, stuck in the roof, where it is now 
to be seen. Even such a marksman as "bold Robin 
Hood " might be pardoned for inaccuracy of aim, had he to 
shoot with iron arrows. In the fourteenth century the 
young men of Yarmouth designed to build an aisle, the 
" Bachelors' Aisle," in addition to those already existing in 
their parish church, but the outbreak of the Black Death 
put a stop to their work. The inscription "Young Men 
and Maydens," which is cut twice on the fine tower of All 
Saints' Church, Derby, is supposed to commemorate the 
fact that the bachelors and the maidens of the town made 
themselves responsible for its erection up to that point. 

Some carving on the west front of Bath Abbey is 
commemorative of a vision which led to the restoration of 
that building. Oliver King, on his translation, in 1495, 
from the see of Exeter to that of Bath and Wells, found the 
abbey in the latter city in absolute ruin. While meditating 
one night over this grievous state of things, he saw a vision 
like that of Jacob of old — a ladder up which the holy 
angels passed, while at the top glowed the presence of the 
Blessed Trinity. Beside the ladder a fair olive-tree spread 
its branches in support of a royal crown ; and a voice 
seemed to say in his ear, " Let an Olive establish the crown, 
and a King restore the church.'* Encouraged by this divine 
intimation, he set manfully to work to rebuild the abbey in 
the year 1500; and although he did not live to see it 



completed, he was able to do much ; and on the western 
front he carved the ladder of his vision. 

Another Somersetshire story of church building comes 
from Monksilver, and here, too, it wreathes itself around 
some carving in the church. In the heads of the windows 
in the south aisle are cut the figures of a hammer, a nail, a 
pair of pincers, and a horse-shoe ; whereby, the villagers say, 
hangs this tale. Long years ago a worthy blacksmith in the 
place sent to Bristol for a hundredweight of iron, and in due 
time received a sack filled with metal. But when he opened 
it, it proved to be full of glistening gold ! In thankfulness for 
this sudden wealth, he built this south aisle to his parish 
church, and commemorated in the carving the fact that it 
was a blacksmith's gift. The legend does not condescend 
to tell us what steps (if any) the worthy man took to find 
the true owner of the wealth ; '* finding is keeping '* usually 
in folk-lore tales. 

When a public appeal had to be made for funds, the 
usual method in past ages was by means of briefs. The 
word was applied originally to a form of pontifical letter 
issued by the pope, somewhat less solemn and weighty in 
character than a bull. It came latterly in England to be 
used of letters patent issued by the sovereign authorizing 
and recommending the collection of alms on behalf of a 
specified cause. It occurs in this sense in the office for the 
Holy Eucharist in the Prayer-book, where, after the Nicene 
Creed, there is a rubic which runs, " Then also (if occasion 
be) shall . . . Briefs, Citations, and Excommunications 
be read." The use of these authoritative documents was 
abolished by Act of Parliament (9 Geo. IV., c. 28) in 1828 ; 
but the name continued to be used loosely of circular 


appeals for help in cases of emergency. Briefs, both in the 
legal and the popular sense, were often issued for the 
building and the repair of churches. In the parish of 
Witney, in the diocese of Oxford, the sum of 5s. 6j4d, was 
thus collected in 1700 for Ely Cathedral, and in 1702 
;^i IS. 7d. for Chester Cathedral. At Westmeon, Hamp- 
shire, 5 s. 6d. was raised by a brief for All Saints* Church, 
Oxford, 4s. for Kentford Church, Suffolk, in 17 15, and 
many other similar sums for churches in all parts of 
England ; for briefs seem to have been used very freely in 
that parish, or perhaps a fuller record of them has been kept 
there than in the generality of cases. The parish of 
Hadstock, Essex, has also a long list of briefs, many of them 
on behalf of churches. 

A glance at a list of these briefs as preserved in some of 
our parish records emphasizes most startlingly the dangers 
of fire in the last century, and the terrible havoc thus wrought 
in those days. The ground of appeal with painfully 
recurring frequency is damage, and often evidently extensive 
damage, by fire. It must be remembered that much timber 
was still used in building; there was little attempt at 
organized methods of coping with fire, except in London 
and some few of the large towns, and fire insurance was 
scarcely ever thought of.* 

* Insurance against fire first became recognized as a business in 1667, 
the year after the Great Fire of London, though some gilds gave help to 
their members who had suffered loss in this way. Insurance was, how- 
ever, used only to a limited extent down to quite recent times, one 
hindrance being the fact that the Government, in 1782, imposed an 
annual duty (in addition to the stamp) upon each insurance, which 
amounted at one time to 2C0 per cent, of the premium ! It was not 
wholly abolished until 1869. The insurance of Church property is now 


The mention of the ravages wrought by fire upon churches 
brings us naturally to some legends and superstitions 
concerning their destruction ; and, to go for a moment 
beyond the borders of the English Church, it may be pointed 
out that among the Danes the appearance of a raven, almost 
everywhere a bird of ill-omen, in a village is believed to 
foretell the death of the parish priest, or the burning-down of 
the church. 

The Manx folk have a firm conviction that to use for 
secular purposes any place that has been dedicated to sacred 
usage bodes no good. To pasture one's sheep within the 
ground marked by a " Druidic " circle will probably bring 
disease to the flock, and there is no more withering curse 
than that carried in the words, " Clogh ny killagh ayns 
corneil dty hie mooar." (May a stone of the church be 
found in the corner of thy house.) A stone was taken from 
S. Luke's Chapel, in Baldwin, and carried to a farmhouse ; 
but the whole family was kept awake by such supernatural 
sounds that it had to be removed. Someone accordingly 
placed it on the earthen fence of one of the fields, but the 
fence crumbled away beneath it. Finally it was taken back 
to the chapel, and all was well once more. In a house built 
on the site of an old Roman Catholic chapel on the south 
side of Douglas, the occupants heard nightly the tramp and 
shuffle of many feet, as of the arrival and departure of a con- 
gregation of people. In some parts of the country an idea 
prevails that it is unlucky, even for needful repairs or other 
justifiable cause, to have any hand in pulling down a church. 

The fancy that where a church has been destroyed some 
signs of its existence may still be seen or heard, is of 
common occurrence. At Fisherty Brow, near Kirkby 


Lonsdale, is a hollow where it is said a whole parish was 
once upon a time swallowed up, and where every Sunday 
the engulphed bells may yet be heard ringing. Crosmere 
Lake, Shropshire, covers an ancient chapel whose bells still 
ring whenever the waters are ruffled. But legends of this 
type are indeed legion. 

On many points along the British coasts the sea has so far 
encroached that whole parishes with their churches now lie 
beneath the tide. At Kilgrimal, near Blackpool, legend says 
that a church has been devoured by the sea, but that on 
Christmas Eve its bells may still be heard joyously pealing. 
Nothing now remains above high-water mark of the greater 
part of the parish of Mablethorpe S. Peter, Lincolnshire. 
The Yorkshire coast has several similar instances. Burstall 
Priory was swept away by the Humber before Henry VIIL 
and his creatures looted and destroyed the monastic houses ; 
the chapel of S. Mary at Ravenspur, about the year 1355, 
was overwhelmed ; about 1450 S. Mary's, Withernsea, 
shared the same fate, and the church at Auburn was taken 
down in 1731 to avoid it. Within the present century the 
churches of Kilnsea, Out Newton, and Owthorne have all 
been undermined, and have crumbled and fallen into the sea; 
and the tide now ebbs and flows across their sites. The 
victorious ocean is marching on to achieve new conquests 
in the same districts ; Tunstall, near Owthorne, is but 600 
yards from the sea, though a century since it was separated 
from it by a distance of 924 yards. Aldborough Church 
contains a tablet taken from one erected by Ulf before the 
Conquest ; Ulfs church has long been beneath the waves ; 
and Aldborough, though still a mile and a half from them, 
sees them roll daily nearer. 


Pethaps the most startling case of all is that of Dunwich, 
in Suffolk. Here we have a place, once a thriving seaport, 
the seat of the first East-Anglian bishopric, a town which 
contributed over a thousand marks to King Richard I., 
when Ipswich and Yarmouth were assessed only at two 
hundred each. But the advancing sea has destroyed most 
of the town, and left only the ruin of one church out of 
twelve which once rang out their bells across Southwold 
Bay, Again, yet further south, the Rev. Francis Green, 
vicar of Reculver from 1695 ^^ ^T^^j wrote of his own 
parish, " The current tradition of the place is that the parish 
church stood about a mile into the sea, upon a place called 
by the inhabitants * The Black Rock ' " ; and this tradition is 
confirmed by a record in the GentlemarCs Magazine^ to the 
effect that "On Saturday morning, January 3, 1784, there 
was a lower ebb tide all along the Kentish coast than has 
been known for many years. ... At Reculver, the 
Black Rock (as it is called) being left dry, the foundations 
of the ancient parish church were discovered, which had not 
been seen for forty years before." 

Everyone knows the story of the swallowing by the sea of 
the " Land of the Lyonnesse," the tract between Cornwall 
and the Scilly Isles. In that disaster legend avers that one 
hundred and forty parish churches were overwhelmed. In 
several cases Cornish churches, though not engulphed by 
the sea, have been buried in drifting sands. At Perranza- 
buloe is an ancient church, of which it was supposed that 
nothing but the memory survived, until in 1835 the shifting 
of the sands disclosed it once more. At Gwithian is 
another, which has fared somewhat similarly. Near 
Padstow stands the old church of S. Enodock, which the 


sand-drifts have almost made their own. Being in a solitary 
situation it has been almost abandoned ; but service is still 
said there once a year, although it is said the parish priest 
has before now been compelled to enter through a window, 
or by a hole in the roof, in order to conduct it. 

There are other instances of the occasional use of ruined, 
or almost ruined, churches. In the early part of this 
century the carol-singers in one district of West Cornwall, 
after having made their round of the villages, met in the 
dilapidated baptistery of S. Levan and sang a number 
of carols. In connection with two wakes, held in the Abbey 
Foregate suburb of Shrewsbury, and known as the Cherry 
wakes and the Eel-pie wakes (from the dishes sacred to the 
occasions), service was sung, with the assistance of a string- 
band, in the ruined church of S. Giles. In 1836, however, 
the church was restored, and the divine offices ceased to 
be exceptional things there. Every Ascension Day used 
to be marked by a service in the chapel of Finchale Abbey, 
near Durham, which was performed by the clergy and choir 
of S. Oswald's in the city. Many are the sanctuaries 
throughout the land, mighty abbeys and wayside chapels, of 
which, unfortunately, the sacred character has been practically 
forgotten, and which have been preverted to base uses. But 
the field which this memory opens to us is too wide for us 
to enter upon here. 

Before closing our chapter upon the folk-lore and legends 
which have grown up about the construction of our churches, 
a note or two upon a few buildings which are quaint or 
curious may be added. 

The existence of twin churches — or two standing in one 
churchyard — has given rise to many fanciful stories. Of 


this siDgukr anangement there are several escamples in the 
Eastern counties. At Swafifham Prior, Cambridgeshire, we 
have S, Cyriac's and S. Mary's thus situated ; at Trimley, 
Suffolk, are S. Mary's and S. Martin's; and there are instances 
in Norfolk. At Albrighton and Donington, in Shropshire, 
the parish churches are placed in the adjacent limits of their 
parishes, and are thus close together. The local story, in 
almost every case, is to the effect that the two buildings were 
erected in rivalry, the builders, curiously enough, being very 
frequently described as sisters. It is not improbable that 
in cases where two neighbouring barons divided a village 
between them, each may have built a church in some cases, 
neither being willing to give precedence to the other, or to 
accept the ministrations of his nominee. 

The largest church in England — ^that is the one covering 
the greatest number of square yards — is York Minster, S. 
Paul's Cathedral coming second. The largest churches 
other than cathedrals are the abbeys of Beverley and 
Tewkesbury; but the largest parish church, which was 
built as such and not as a monastic church, is that of 
Yarmouth, Coventry being the next in size.* 

To decide which is the smallest church in England is not 
quite so simple ; but there are many that are as quaintly 
interesting for their diminutiveness as others are impressive 
by their vastness. The church which George Herbert 
served so well, at Bemerton, near Salisbury, seats but forty 
people ; and I^uUington, Sussex, holds not many more than 

* A comparison of the axea of these six churches, representing three 
classes of foundations, may be interesting to the reader ; the figures in 
square feet are as follows : York, 63,800 ; S, Paul's* 59,700; Beverley, 
29,600 ; Tewkesbury, 26,000 ; Yarmouth, 23,265 ; Coventiy, 22,08a 


its twenty-five parishioners. Bradford-on-Avon Church has 
a nave only twenty-four feet long by thirteen feet wide, with 
a chancel thirteen feet long by ten feet wide : this relic of 
past ages (it was built by S. Aldhem in 705) is not now 
used, but is carefully preserved. The churches of Culbone 
and Charlcombe, in Somersetshire, and Fen ton, in Essex, 
each claims to be the smallest in England. The 
churches of Woldingham, Surrey; Stopham and Selham, 
Sussex ; Coates, Lincolnshire ; Farndish, Bedfordshire, and 
many others, will not contain a hundred people. Probably 
the smallest, as originally erected, was S. Laurence's 
Church, in the Isle of Wight ; but it has been lengthened 
by fifteen feet, and now seats a congregation of 107. A 
late parish clerk has thus celebrated its proportions : — 

" Its breadth, from side to side above the bench, 
Is just eleven feet and half an inch ; 
Its height, from pavement to the ceiling mortar, 
Eleven feet four inches and a quarter ; 
And its whole length from the east to the west end, — 
I tell the truth, on which you may depend — 
'Twas twenty-five feet, four inches, quarters three, 
But now 'tis forty feet as you may see. 
In eleven hundred and ninety-seven 
'Twas built to show us the way to Heaven." 

Amongst other churches in England which present, either 
by accident or design, peculiarities of construction, mention 
may be made of Abbey Dore, the chapel of the ancient 
abbey, which consists of the transepts, choir, and Lady 
Chapel only of the original building. Very similar is All 
Saints', Pontefract, which is now almost reduced to a 
condition of breadth without length, the transepts of a 
splendid church, which was wrecked during the Civil Wars, 
being all that is now used. Kilpeck Church is a curiously 


elaborate structure for its size, its Norman doorways and 
arches being beautifully carved. S. Helen's, Abingdon, 
consisted until 1873 of five alleys of about equal breadth, 
and named respectively (commencing at the northern side) 
Jesus Aisle, Our lady's, S. Helen's, Holy Cross, and S. 
Catherine's ; the total breadth being greater than the length. 
At the restoration, in the year named, S. Helen's aisle was 
raised so as to allow of the insertion of clerestory windows, 
and thus the strange uniformity was lost. At Berwick-on- 
Tweed is one of the few churches — if indeed it be not the 
unique example — erected during the days of the Common- 
wealth, and this is perfectly original in its architecture. But, 
indeed, out of the thousands of our churches, great and 
small, ancient and modern. Classic and Gothic, there are 
very few which have not some features which make them 


WHY do churches have steeples ? The temples of no 
other faith are so adorned : the Greek and the 
Roman were content with the dignity of portico and 
colonnade ; the Israelite fronted his temple only with the 
twin pillars, Jachin and Boaz; the Egyptian reared his 
obelisks, or formed his avenue of sphinxes; the Eastern 
religions build their pagodas — but none use tower or spire 
to glorify their fanes. The Mohammedan, it is true, adds 
minarets to his mosque, but Mohammedanism has gleaned 
from both Christianity and Judaism in forming its faith, and 
may well have used imitation in this respect also. The 
more the question is faced, the more evidently it appears to 
be connected with this other fact, that Christianity alone 
uses peals of bells. In other words, as the employment of 
large bells grew into use, so the need of some structure, 
strong enough to sustain their weight, and lofty enough to 
give full play to their voices, became evident. Thus even 
the architect designing a Christian church in the severest 
classical mode, was compelled to find room for an elevated 
belfry of some kind, as in the ingenious quasi-classical 
spires erected in such numbers and variety by Sir Chris- 
topher Wren. And it is worthy of notice in this connection 
that Christian sects which abandoned — or were forbidden — 
the use of bells, abandoned the building of steeples also. 


It is true that the English Dissenters have taken in com- 
paratively recent years to giving spires — generally meagre 
and half-hearted specimens, evidently not for use, and 
almost equally evidently not for ornament — to their places 
of worship ; but these are confessedly imitations of the 
architecture of the Church. 

If then we grant this to be the ground of the existence of 
our steeples, we are not surprised — recalling how deeply all 
evil spirits are known to hate the voices of the bells — to 
find that the Devil has endeavoured to prevent their erection, 
as we have seen he sometimes has done in the case of the 
church itself. At Towednack, Cornwall, the story goes that 
the Prince of Darkness never permitted the completion of 
the tower, but that he pertinaciously destroyed by night all 
that the industry of the masons could erect by day. At 
West Walton, Norfolk, his interference took another form ; 
the tower was built, but the Devil carried it off; and there it 
now stands, at a distance from the church. In this instance 
it was, we are told, the wickedness of the Fenmen which 
gave the arch-enemy his power of obstruction. 

But if demons hindered, saints sometimes helped, as is 
evidenced by the legend of Probus steeple. The church 
here was built by the saint from whom the parish takes its 
name ; but the holy man, like others less marked by sanctity, 
was troubled by want of funds, and was at his wits' end for 
means to erect a tower. At last he begged the assistance of 
S. Grace, and through her the required sum was found, and 
the church finished. Then S. Probus, yielding to the temp- 
tation to pride, took to himself no small credit for the 
completed work, until he was reproved and humbled by a 
mysterious voice which sang through the air, 


" S. Probus and Grace, 
Not the first but the last." 

The tower of Ashton-under-Lyne had several yards of its 
masonry built by a woman, who suddenly appeared among 
the workmen, and found them engaged in playing cards. 
She promised to do a portion of their labour for them if they 

succeeded in turning up an ace ; and, luckily for them, the 


next card in the pack proved to be the ace of spades. In 
memory of this strange occurrence an ace of spades was 
carved upon the tower. Such is the story : it probably owes 
its origin to the fact that an escutcheon, not unlike the 
figure on the card named, was placed upon the tower, and 
was misunderstood by the local folk. 

The church at Ormskirk has both a tower and a spire, a 
fact which is thus accounted for. Two maiden sisters of the 
name of Orm undertook the building, but quarrelled about 
the completion of it, one contending for a tower only, the 
other insisting upon having a spire. By way of compromise 
each built according to her fancy, so that the church got 
both. The probability is, it must be confessed, that the 
sisters Orm are a myth, and that the tower was erected to 
hold a full ring of bells, the earlier tower, which is capped by 
the spire, not being large enough for the purpose. The tower 
of Prestwich Church is adorned with a series of curious 
carvings ; high up on the parapet, and mostly on the south 
side, are a number of quaint scenes, a goose defending her 
goslings from the attack of a fox, a swan floating amid her 
cygnets, musicians playing upon wind instruments, a man 
holding a muzzled dog, and angels carrying shields. 

The elevated character of this portion of the church 
fabric has made it serviceable in several ways, not all of 


them very admirable. There are several instances of the 
steeple having been used for acrobatic performances. In 
1553 a Dutchman mounted the spire of old S. Paul's, and 
standing upon the apex waved a flag, for which he was paid 
jCi6 ; thereby illustrating a remark of Pilkington, bishop of 
Durham, in a sermon preached on "The burnynge of 
Paules Church in the yeare of our Lord 1561, and the 
iiii. day of June, by lyghtnynge"; "From the top of the 
spire," he says, "at coronations, or other solemn triumphs, 
some for vain glory used to throw themselves down by a rope, 
and so killed themselves vainly to please other men's eyes." 
At the reception of Philip of Spain in 1555, "a fellow came 
slipping upon a cord, as an arrow out of a bow, from Paul's 
steeple to the ground, and lighted with his head forward on 
a greate sort of feather bed." King George III., with his 
characteristic common-sense, dismissed a man who had 
tried to entertain him with a like stupid performance on 
Salisbury spire, with the remark, "As the father of my 
people, it is my duty to reward those who save life, and not 
those who risk human life," In 1732 a man named 
Cadman slid down a rope stretched from the top of All 
Saints', Derby, to the bottom of S. Michael's ; he tried 
the feat at Shrewsbury in 1740, and was killed. 
Meanwhile another performer had appeared in Derby; in 
1734 a man came down a rope from All Saints' tower to the 
bottom ofS, Mary'sGate, drawing afterhima wheel-barrow in 
whichsat a lad of thirteen years of age. He next sent an ass 
down on the same aerial flight ; but when the animal was 
some twenty yards from the end of its journey the rope 
broke at the top ; people were overthrown by the falling ass, 
chimneys were brought down by the rope, and panic and 


confiiBioD were liie result. No lives were lost, but Acre 
were no more acrobatic feats on All Saints' tower. 

In 160D a famous performer of the time named Banks, 
and his not less famous horse, Morocco, ascended to the 
top of S. Paul's steeple, and stood astride the vane. One 
other instance of a much earlier date, shows that the Churdi 
was roused to protest against these useless and dangerous 
exhibitions, at any rate when they ended fatally. In 1237 
a man gave an acrobatic display on a rope stretched between 
the towers of Durham Cathedral, and fell and broke his 
neck. The Prior of the Abbey, who had the privilege of 
wearing the mitre, was censured and deprived of that 
distinction for countenancing the performance. 

The existence of this practice shows how strong a tendency 
there has often been to treat the tower as scarcely an integral 
part of the sacred building ; and the same fact is illustrated 
by the way in which it has often been used as a lumber 
room for all kinds of scarcely ecclesiastical properties. In 
the spire of S. Cuthbert's Church, Elsdon, was discovered a 
smaU chamber containing the skulls of three horses ; but 
these have been held to have been something more than 
lumber ; antiquaries seeing in them a relic of the cultus of 
the horse, of the existence of which in England there are 
several evidences. S. Mary Redcliffe, Bristol, contains, or 
did contain, a more remarkable relic in the rib of a monster 
cow, which " once upon a time " supplied the whole city 
with milk. The rib, as a matter of fact, is a bone from a 
whale. The same tower contained the old chests in which 
Chatterton alleged that he found Rowley's poems ; and in 
this S. Mary's is by no means alone, many a tower serving 
for the storage of old documents, of more or less interest. 


The prominent position of the church tower was long 
since recognized as fitting it especially to hold a large clock 
for the convenience of all the parish; and around this 
accidental appendage to the church some superstitions have 
grown. In Veryan, Cornwall, for example, there is a 
tradition that, should the church clock strike the hour during 
the singing of the hymn preceding the sermon on Sunday 
morning, or before the third collect at evensong, there will 
be a death in the parish during the week. In Shropshire 
the death-token is given by the clock striking during the 
announcement of the text for the sermon on Sunday 
morning, or (especially at Baschurch) while the final hymn 
is singing. In some parts of Yorkshire, and probably 
elsewhere, it is regarded as singularly unlucky for the clock 
to strike while a wedding-party is in the church ; and the 
present writer has known a bride and her friends, who lived 
immediately opposite the church, flatly decline to leave 
the house until the clock had struck, the wedding having 
been arranged for a quarter to the hour for the convenience 
of the priest, who had come some distance to officiate. 

In more than one place in England the custom has arisen 
of holding a short service, usually consisting of hymns 
and anthems, on the top of the tower on some special 
anniversary. Pilkington, in the sermon quoted above, 
alludes to a similar usage in old S. Paul's; '^at the 
battlements of the steeple sundry times were used their 
popish anthems to call upon their gods with torch and taper 
in the evenings." At the battle of Neville's Cross, 
October 17 th, 1346, the monks of Durham ascended the 
great tower of their cathedral and watched eagerly the 
progress of the fight, chanting litanies the while ; and when 


at last victory declared itself on the side of the English, they 
broke into a joyful Te Deum as an act of thanksgiving. 
Every year in memory of that event the songs of praise rang 
out once more from the same place, until the Puritan 
supremacy under the Commonwealth put a stop to almost 
all signs of joy in church and out of it. At the Restoration 
the custom was revived, but the date was changed to the 
29th May, and it continues on that day annually to the 
present time. Originally an anthem was sung on each side 
of the tower ; but a chorister, having unhappily fallen on one 
occasion from the north side, that battlement has been 
avoided ever since. The custom of singing a hymn to the 
Holy Trinity on Magdalen Tower, Oxford, at sunrise on 
May Day, though in keeping with the feeling of bygone 
days, is not a very ancient usage. May it, however, continue 
until it has become so ! 

In the stormy days of long ago, when warfare often 
stalked across the land, the prominence of the church towers 
led to their being utilized very differently from the way last 
referred to. In many places, especially along the Scottish 
border and in the Welsh Marches, we find towers that have 
been fortified for defensive purposes. The tower of Great 
Salkeld Church, Cumberland, has only one entrance, namely, 
through the sacred building itself, and the door is iron-clad, 
and fitted on the inside with stout bars. Within this 
ecclesiastical keep the town armour was placed. In the 
same county we meet with other examples at Burgh- on-the- 
Sands and at Newton. Bedale, Middleham, and Melsonby, 
in Yorkshire, all have fortified towers, the first named 
having even a portcullis guarding its narrow stair. 

The instances in which churches and their towers were 



put to military use, without having been actually constructed 
with that incongruous object in view, are numerous ; in fact 
during the great Civil War it seems to have been common. 
The troopers of the Parliament made temporary fortresses of 
the churches of Powderham and Ottery S. Mary ; while the 
Royalists occupied those of Tiverton, S. Budeaux, and 
Townstall ; these examples all occurring in the single county 
of Devon. The half-ruined condition of the old parish 
church of Pontefract is due to its use in the same way. 

It would be tedious to give anything approaching to a 
full list of notable towers and spires in England. One or 
two notes upon the subject, however, will appropriately 
close this chapter. The central tower at York, built in 
1260, claims to be the largest in the country, though to the 
eyes of some the Rood Tower at Lincoln is the most 
splendid. The Bell Harry Tower at Canterbury was once 
the '* Angel Steeple," a great gilded angel gleaming out from 
its summit in the olden time to greet the pilgrims to 
S. Thomas's shrine. The spire of Salisbury, soaring in 
exquisite proportions 404 feet into the air, is one of the 
architectural gems of the country ; nor should one forget 
the spire of Chichester, nor the triple spires of Lichfield, 
nor the splendid lantern tower of Ely. Among parish 
churches Boston claims pre-eminence for the height of its 
tower, and does not readily yield to another on the score of 
beauty; Taunton, Wrexham, Ludlow, and All Saints', 
Derby, possess splendid and massive towers; and the 
steeple of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, with its beautiful crown, 
compels the admiration of every beholder, even if he cannot 
quite subscribe to the enthusiastic words of a late vicar of 
the town (the Rev. Joseph Dacre), who, in 1804, declared 


it to be, in his opinion, " the most beautiful in the world, 
which surpasses the cathedral of S. Sophia at Constanti- 
nople, the mosque of Sultan Saladin at Jerusalem, the 
church of S. Peter at Rome, even the temple of Minerva at 
Athens." Beautiful, too, is the spire at Louth, Lincoln- 
shire ; and Doncaster Church and that of Hedon, locally 
known as the "King of Holderness," have fine, massive 

Among steeples rather curious than fine, mention must 
of course be made of the " twisted spire " at Chesterfield. 
The tower of Cartmel Church, of which the upper section is 
placed diagonally within the lower one, is scarcely less 
quaint in its way, although less well known. 

The rise of tower or spire respectively follows a fashion in 
certain districts. Throughout Lincolnshire, for example, 
towers are found almost exclusively in the old churches, 
except in the neighbourhood of Stamford, where spires 
prevail. Cornwall, again, is a county of towers, only a few 
ancient churches, such as S. Ewe in West Cornwall, having 

The chief part of the lore and legend of the church tower 
connects itself after all with a subject that has not been 
touched upon, namely, with the bells, but as the author has 
dealt with that somewhat fully elsewhere,* he makes no 
pretence of entering here upon so wide a field. 

* " A Book About Bells," by the same author. (W. Andrews & Co., 
Hull and London, 1898.) 


FROM the earliest times it was usual, when possible, to 
have a garth, or enclosed space, about a church, 
although it was not at first used for burials. Instances of 
interment within the sacred precincts occur in the fourth 
century, and by the sixth the practice had become common. 
Cuthbert, who ascended the primatial throne of Canterbury 
in 742, has been credited with introducing the use of 
churchyards as burial-places into England. One of the laws 
of Howel Dha, King of Wales in 943, prescribes the extent 
of such an enclosure : " The measure of a burial-ground 
is a lawful acre in length, the extremity of which shall touch 
the threshold (of the church), and surround it on every side." 
Such a limitation of the ground recalls the name referred 
to by Longfellow in the lines, — 

*' I like that ancient Saxon phrase, which calls 
The burial-ground God*s-Acre ! It is just ; 
It consecrates each grave within its walls, 
And breathes a benison o'er the sleeping dust." 

The earliest English allusion to this hallowed spot is 
in the Excerptions of Egbert, Archbishop of York, issued 
about 740, where, under the name of atrium^ it is mentioned 
as a garden near the church. The eighty-fifth canon, 
issued in 1603, provides for the protection of this ground, 
declaring it part of the duty of churchwardens to " take care 


that the churchyards be well and sufficiently repaired, 
fenced, and maintained with walls, rails, or pales, as 
have been in each place accustomed." 

The planting of churchyards with trees is a custom the 
origin of which has often been discussed, especially as 
certain trees appear to have been held, time out of mind, 
as specially sacred to such use. The yew is before all 
others the typical churchyard tree of England, and the 
possible reasons for its frequent appearance there are well 
summed up by White in his " Antiquities of Selborne," 
in a passage which is worth quoting at length. 

" As to the use of these trees, possibly the more 
respectable parishioners were buried under their shade 
before the improper custom was introduced of burying 
within the body of the church, where the living are to 
assemble. Deborah, Rebekah's nurse (Gen. xxxv., 8), was 
buried under an oak ; the most honourable place of 
interment probably next to the cave of Machpelah (Gen. 
xxiii., 9), which seems to have been appropriated to the 
remains of the patriarchal family alone. The farther use 
of the yew-trees might be as a screen to churches, by their 
thick foliage, from the* violence of winds ; perhaps also for 
the purpose of archery, the best long bows being made 
of that material ; and we do not hear that they are planted 
in the churchyards of other parts of Europe, where long 
bows were not so much in use. They might also be placed 
as a shelter to the congregation assembling before the 
church doors were opened, and as an emblem of mortality 
by their funereal appearance. In the South of England 
every churchyard almost has its tree, and some two ; but in 
the North, we understand, few are to be found. The idea 


that the yew-tree afforded its branches instead of palms 
for the processions on Palm Sunday is a good one, and 
deserves attention." 

The idea of protecting the fabric of the church by means 
of surrounding trees occurs in one of the decrees of the 
Synod of Exeter held in 1287, which runs: — "Since trees 
are often planted there (in the churchyard) to prevent the 
church from being injured by storms, we strictly forbid the 
rector to fell them ; unless the chancel shall stand in need 
of repair, or unless, when the nave requires to be repaired, 
the rector, on account of the poverty of the parishioners, 
shall think proper, out of charity, to grant them some of the 
trees for that purpose." The law as to the right of the 
incumbent to fell timber in his freehold, the churchyard, is 
still the same as that here decreed for the western diocese. 

There is evidence that the churchyard yews were some- 
times used for making long bows, but it is by no means so 
certain that they were planted there for that purpose; 
although their growth there with that object was encouraged 
by Edward IV. about 1470 ; indeed, the fact that the trees 
in each churchyard were never numerous, while the number 
of bows required at the time when the long bow was the 
national weapon must have been very large, coupled with 
this other fact that the best wood for bows came from 
abroad, seems fatal to the theory. The yew, however, was 
unquestionably the usual wood for the manufacture of bows, 
and to this, and to the poisonous nature of the leaves, 
Shakespeare alludes when he makes Scroop say ("King 
Richard II.," Act iii., 2)— 

** The very beadsmen learn to bend their bows 
Of double-fatal yew 5 " 


and among the accounts of the churchwardens for the 
parish of Ashburton, in Devon, we find such entries as 
sums received "from lopping off the yew-tree," and 
payments "to the Bowyer" in 1558-9. But in the days of 
Elizabeth a bow of English yew cost but 2 s., while one of 
the "best foreign yew" cost 6s. 8d. Spanish wood was 
then, rather strangely, considering the relations of the two 
countries at that time, the most highly prized. 

That yew was used in the Palm Sunday procession is also 
clear; but here again the fact hardly accounts for the 
frequency of the presence of the tree near the church, for 
its branches were by no means the only substitute for palm 
that was employed. In an old sermon for this festival we 
find this passage : " For encheson (reason) we have not 
olyfe y' bereth grene leves we takon in stede of hit hew & 
palmes wyth, & beroth abowte in procession." From this 
usage yew came to be called palm in many places. An 
entry in the accounts just quoted, under the date 1558-9, 
mentions a sum paid " to the Bowyer for cutting out of the 
polme tree"; as late as 1709 the churchwardens of S. 
Dunstan's, Canterbury, caused a " palm-tree " to be planted 
in their churchyard, and the accounts of Woodbury, Devon, 
for 1775 refer to "a yew or palm tree planted y« south side 
of the Church." But in many places the willow is so 
named, especially in the North of England, and church- 
wardens' accounts in London frequently allude to the 
purchase of that and of box, as well as yew, against Palm 

The appropriateness of the yew to a graveyard has been 
asserted on the two opposite grounds, that its heavy foliage 
has long made it emblematic of death, and that its wonderful 


vitality makes it a type of resurrection and eternal life. Sir 
Thomas Browne, in his " Hydriotaphia," speaks of both 
ideas : " Whether the planting of yewe in churchyards hold 
not its original from ancient funeral rites, or as an emblem 
of the resurrection from its perpetual verdure, may," he 
allows, "admit conjecture." It is certain that among the 
ancients yew shared with cypress the mournful honour of 
being used at funereal solemnities, and that the tradition of 
such usage reached to our own country, and almost, if not 
quite, to our own time. Shakespeare speaks of a " shroud 
of white, stuck all with yew " ; and branches of yew were 
formerly carried at funerals at Ashill, in Somersetshire. On 
the other hand, the life of the tree is extraordinary. At 
Fountains Abbey are examples which are supposed to have 
attained their full growth in the twelfth century ; and a huge 
tree in Darley churchyard, Derbyshire, has been variously 
estimated at from 700 to 2,500 years olcj. The tallest 
specimen in England is in the churchyard at Harlington, 
near Hounslow, and stands sixty feet high. 

There are not wanting antiquaries who, with much 
reason, consider that the connection between the yew and 
consecrated ground stretches back to a time before Palm 
Sunday processions or long bows were thought of. Dr. 
Rock considers that the alliance has subsisted from the 
days of the conversion of our English forefathers ; while 
others hold that the presence of a noble tree growing in its 
natural beauty was the occasion of the choice of the site for 
the church. 

Owing perhaps to its close connection with sacred 
things, the yew is held to be specially hateful to witches, and 
any place sheltered by it is safe from their attacks. In 


Cornwall, to pluck branches or blooms from any shrubs or 
flowers planted in a churchyard is considered unlucky ; and 
it is alleged that ghosts from the despoiled ground will 
haunt the house of the depredator. 

In marked contrast to the sombreness and heaviness of 
the yew is the rose with its delicate tints and fragile form ; 
but this queen of flowers has also been consecrated to the 
service of the burial-ground. At Ockley, in Surrey, it used 
to be customary to plant roses upon the graves, especially 
for a maiden so to adorn the last resting-place of her lost 
lover. In Wales also the pretty custom once obtained of 
growing a white rose on the grave of a maiden, and a red one 
on that of anyone distinguished especially for benevolence. 
The Greeks and Romans adorned their sepulchres with 
roses ; and Manning, the historian of Surrey, and others 
have seen the survival of classical usage in these British 

At Barnes, in Surrey, died, on December i8th, 1652, one 
Edward Rose, who in his testamentary direction for the 
adornment of his last resting-place was probably influenced 
by the thought of his own surname, rather than by any 
recollection of this Greek usage. He bequeathed the sum 
of ;^5 for the erection of a wooden partition in the church- 
yard at the spot chosen for his grave; and ;^2o to be 
expended in the purchase of land, the rent of which was to 
be devoted to the relief of the poor of the parish after the 
needful sum had been disbursed to plant and maintain 
beneath the shelter of this wooden frame three rose-trees. 
The rents were, or till lately were, spent in bread; the 
rose-trees of the donor have been forgotten. 

That same synod of Exeter, above noticed, made a decree 


concerning the grass of the churchyard, the propriety of 
which, though it will now be almost everywhere admitted, 
was at one time generally denied or ignored in England. 
" We decree," say the Exeter fathers, " that if the rectors of 
churches, or parish priests, to whom the custody of burial- 
grounds chiefly belongs, shall suffer their own or any other 
cattle to feed there, they shall be severely punished by their 
ordinaries." Until comparatively recently it was quite usual 
for sheep to be pastured in God's Acre; and it is still 
occasionally done, although every dictate of good-feeling and 
reverence is surely against such usage of ground consecrated 
both to God and to the memory of the dead. Cows also 
were sometimes fed there, and milk from animals living in 
such a pasture was considered in the North of England a 
sovereign remedy against the ill-effects of being "witch- 

The belief that churchyards are haunted is natural enough. 
If spirits " walk " at all, if anywhere communion is to be held 
with the souls of the departed, the burial-ground is obviously 
the most likely plape for such ghostly perambulations and 
meetings. We are all of us slow to realize, or half-unwilling 
to believe, that soul and body actually and entirely part 
company, and thus we cling to the fancy that where the 
latter lies there the former must delight to linger. Twice in 
" A Midsummer Night's Dream " Puck alludes to the 
haunting of churchyards. In the closing scene of the play 
he sings — 

" Now it is the time of night, 

That the graves, all gaping wide, 
Everyone lets forth his sprite, 
In the churchyard paths to glide ; " 


in the Third Act (Scene 2) he speaks of the morning star, 

** Aurora's harbinger, 
At whose approach, ghosts wandering here and there, 
Troop home to churchyards." 

Hamlet, too, exclaims (Act iii., 2) 

** 'Tis now the very witching hour of night. 
When churchyards yawn." 

According to one tradition it was the rule at one time to 
provide each church and churchyard with a ghostly defender 
against the spells of witches or their diabolic practices. In 
order to do this a dog or a boar was buried alive under one 
of the corner-stones of the building, and its apparition kept 
off all profane intruders. In case any person buried in the 
churchyard is unable to rest, but haunts the place at night, 
the ghost may be laid (so at any rate it was supposed in 
Staffordshire not very long ago) by cutting a turf, at least 
four inches square, from his grave, and laying it under the 
altar for four days. Cornwall at one time boasted the 
possession of several priests who were famous as ghost-layers, 
the Rev. Thomas Flavel being the most noted. His services 
were in great demand, and his methods were of a masterful 
kind ; for he appears generally to have visited the haunted 
churchyard armed with a horse-whip, and to have combined 
exorcism with vigorous flogging. 

It is no very far cry from ghost-laying to the question of 
spells and divination, and churchyard folk-lore provides 
several items of information on these matters. 

The weird rites of S. Mark's Eve (April 24th) are known 
to most people. On this night the wraiths of those who are 
to die during the following twelve months pass in grim and 
ghostly procession into the church; and he who has the 


courage to stand in the churchyard, at some spot com- 
manding a view of the porch, from eleven that night until 
one o'clock the next morning, for three successive years, 
shall on the third occasion see the prophetic vision. Such 
was the belief, and it still lingers in some places, though it 
is not always held necessary to pass a two years* probation 
. before the watch is rewarded. There are many stories, 
some of them remarkably circumstantial, of this vigil having 
been kept with the anticipated result. In some cases the 
procession is alleged to be somewhat more formal, the 
wraiths of the doomed walking in solemn state around the 
churchyard, preceded by the parish clerk. An old man in 
the parish of Fishlake, Yorkshire, kept these vigils regularly 
at the beginning of the present century. Some years since 
Mr. Edward Peacock, the well-known antiquary, communi- 
cated to Notes and Queries (vol. iv., p. 470) the 
following certified account of one of these vigils, copied 
from Holly's " Lincolnshire Notes " : — 

" At Axholme, alias Haxey, in y<^ Isle, one Mr. Edward 
Vicars (curate to Mr. Wm. Dalby, vicar), together with one 
Robert Hallywell, a taylor, intending on St. Marke's even at 
night to watch in y<^ church porch to see who should die in 
jr* yeare following (to this purpose using divers ceremonies), 
they addressing themselves to the busines, Vicars (being 
then in his chamber) wished Hallywell to be going before 
and he would presently follow him. Vicars fell asleep, and 
Hallywell (attending his coming in y« church porch) forth- 
with sees certaine shapes psenting themselves to his view, 
resemblances (as he thought) of divers of his neighbours, 
who he did nominate; and all of them dyed the yeare 
following ; and Vicars himselfe (being asleep) his phantome 


was seen of him also, and dyed with y« rest. This sight 
made Hallywell so agast that he looks like a Ghoast ever 
since. The lord Sheffield (hearing this relation) sent for 
Hallywell to receive account of it. The fellow fearing my 
Lord would cause him to watch the church porch againe, he 
hid himselfe in the Carrs till he was almost starved. The 
number of those that died (whose phantasmes Hallywell 
saw) was as I take it about fower score. 

Tho. Cod, Rector Ecclie de Laceby." 

The testator was a native of Haxey, where this took place. 
It was commonly supposed that if the watcher himself was 
to die, he fell asleep during his vigil, and so would see 
nothing ; a case is quoted, however, of an old woman who 
spent S. Mark's Eve in the porch of S. Mary's, Scarborough, 
and who saw her own figure pass in the ghostly train. 
There is a curious story of the apparition of a late rector of 
Ford, Northumberland, one Mr. March, being seen by two 
casual passers-by on this mysterious night : robed in his 
surplice the phantom flitted through the chancel door, 
which opened for him to pass, and having reached a certain 
point in the churchyard, he vanished. That night the rector 
was taken ill, and died the following day, his grave being 
dug just where the vision had disappeared. 

The same belief is found in the Isle of Man, and is con- 
nected with the same night, although it is usually called 
LaaH Maghal tosher^ or the Great Feast-day of S. Maghold, 
a local saint, whose chief festival coincides with S. Mark's 
Day. The superstition is sometimes transferred to Mid- 
summer Eve. 

James Montgomery has some verses founded on the 


practice here noticed, called "The Vigil of S. Mark," in 
which the whole idea is set forth in these lines : — 

" * 'Tis now,' replied the village belle, 

* S. Mark's mjrsterious eve ; 
And all that old traditions tell 

I tremblingly believe : — 
How when the midnight signal tolls, 

Along the churchyard green 
A mournful train of sentenced souls 

In winding sheets are seen : 

The ghosts of all whom Death shall doom , 

Within the coming year. 
In pale procession walk the gloom 

Amid the silence drear.* " 

Tom Hood also, in his " Oddities," has a story, humorous 
yet not without its touch of pathos, entitled "S. Mark's 
Eve." The most prosaic and practical way of regarding 
this weird superstition is that of a Yorkshire sexton, who in 
a past generation is said to have kept the vigil regularly, 
with a view to forecasting the year's gains in grave-digging ! 
Weddings, as well as funerals, may be foretold by a visit 
to the churchyard at the proper time and in due form. On 
Midsummer Eve, the maid who would know who her 
husband shall be must go to the churchyard at night ; and 
as the clock strikes twelve she must run thrice round the 
church repeating, without stopping, these words, or others like 
them (for there are various versions) — 

** Hemp-seed I sow, — let hemp-seed grow ; 

He that will my sweetheart be, come after me and mow." 

As she runs she scatters hemp-seed, and if she be bold 
enough to look behind her just at the conclusion of her 
course, she will see her future husband mowing in her wake. 


Gay, in his "Thursday, or the Spell," alludes to this 
practice ; — 

** At eve last midsummer no sleep I sought, 
But to the field a bag of hemp-seed brought ; 
I scattered round the seed on every side, 
And three times in a trembling accent cried, — 
* This hemp-seed with my virgin hand I sow. 
Who shall my true love be, the crop shall mow.* 
I straight look'd back, and, if my eyes speak truth. 
With his keen sc)^he, behind me came the youth." 

In some places S. Valentine's Eve is said to be the proper 
time for this form of divination ; but, however suitable it 
may be for love-charms, the 13th February is hardly as 
congenial as midsummer for midnight excursions. 

Witches have always been credited with a special love for 
things ghastly and repulsive, witness the contents of the 
witches' cauldron in "Macbeth"; the churchyard, therefore, 
naturally forms a perfect arsenal of talismans and charms for 
them. " Bones, hairs, nails, and teeth of the dead were the 
treasures of old sorcerers," says Sir Thomas Browne. 
Among the magic cures for disease and pain, or safeguards 
against them, several have been gathered from this source. 
A ring made of three nails taken from coffins in three 
different churchyards used to be considered in Shropshire 
an infallible preventive of rheumatism. In the same county 
a woman's front tooth got from a graveyard and carried 
in the pocket is supposed to protect a man from toothache, 
and similarly a man's tooth will protect a woman. Less 
gruesome is a necklace made of small twigs from an elder- 
tree growing in the churchyard, as a talisman against 
whooping-cough ; this also is found in Shropshire. A 
Cornish cure for a swelling in the neck is to go before the 


sunrise of May Day to the grave of the last young man 
buried in the churchyard, and to pass the hand thrice from 
the head to the foot of the grave and thence to the part 
affected. The Devon folk have a cure for boils of a some- 
what analogous nature. It consists in walking six times 
round a grave newly filled, and crawling thrice across it 
on a dark night ; the performer of the ceremony being, not 
the sufferer, but some man on behalf of a woman, and 
vice versa. 

So far the superstitious practices recounted have had as 
their object the cure of ailments; there are others more 
questionable in purpose. He, for instance, who " maketh 
haste to be rich " may gain a large sum of money if he can 
tie up a black cat with ninety-nine knots, and, taking it to the 
church door, succeed in selling it there to the Devil under 
the pretence that it is a hare. Such is a Northumbrian 
belief, but one wonders if even a man from " canny New- 
castle" could so easily deceive the Prince of Darkness. 
Should any desperate and unhappy man or woman desire to 
bargain with Satan with a view to gaining the unhallowed 
powers of witchcraft, the following (so say the Cornishmen) 
is one way of effecting the purpose. One must present one's 
self at the altar and receive the Blessed Sacrament ; but 
instead of consuming it, conceal it and carry it away. As 
the object is blasphemous, we must not be surprised if the 
means are sacrilegious. Then at midnight this stolen host 
is to be carried thrice around the church, going from south 
to north ; and at the third time a huge toad will be met, 
standing open-mouthed. The Sacrament is to be given to 
this creature, which will then breathe thrice upon the giver, 
and the latter will at once become a witch or a warlock- 


On the other hand, the consecrated soil of a churchyard 
is a protection against the power of spells, and in Wales 
people have been known to gather some of it and scatter it 
upon themselves and their possessions to prevent them 
from being " overlooked." 

Before leaving this section of our subject, one or two 
instances of things lucky and unlucky should be quoted. 
And first of all the common unpopularity of the north side 
of the churchyard for interments claims notice. The most 
casual observer must have been often struck with the fact 
that old churchyards frequently have few mounds or 
memorial stones upon the northern side, while the southern 
one may be already inconveniently crowded. The almost 
vacant and less regarded portion which lies almost all day 
under the shadow of the church, contains probably a 
number of little graves, where still-born and unbaptized 
infants lie, but comparatively few others. And this is the 
case in country churchyards — in towns the increased value 
of land, or the business-like arrangements of cemetery- 
boards, has not suffered the interference of much sentiment 
— all the country over. White, describing the churchyard 
at Selborne, says, " Considering the size of the church, and 
the extent of the parish, the churchyard is very scanty ; and 
especially as all wish to be buried on the south side, which 
is become such a mass of mortality that no person can be 
there interred without disturbing or displacing the bones of 
his ancestors. ... At the east end are a few graves, 
yet none, till very lately, on the north side ; but as two or 
three families of best repute have begun to bury in that 
quarter, prejudice may wear out by degrees, and their 
example be followed by the rest of the neighbourhood." 



An account of "The Exemplary Death of Mr. Benjamin 
Rhodes, Steward to Thomas, Earl of Elgin " (published in 
1657) tells us that "he requested to be interred in the 
open churchyard on the north side (to crosse the received 
superstition, as he thought, of the constant choice of the 
south side) near the new chappel." As an illustration of 
the kind of interment which was suffered to take place on 
the north side, we may quote the sequel to the murder of 
M'Donald by Robert Fitzgerald in Ireland in 1786; "the 
body of Mr. Fitzgerald," a contemporary account informs us, 
"immediately after execution was carried to the ruins of 
Turlagh House. . . . On the next day it was carried 
to the churchyard of Turlagh, where he was buried on what 
is generally termed the wrong side of the church, in his 
clothes without a coffin." 

The north was of old mystically supposed to typify the 
Devil, and a usage prevailed in some places of opening a 
door on that side of the church at the administration of 
Holy Baptism, for the exit of the exorcised demon. Milton, 
in more than one passage, refers to the JEvil One as holding 
sway in the north ; for example, the Divine Father, speaking 

of him, says : — 

** . . . Such a foe 
Is rising, who intends to erect his throne, 
Equal to ours, throughout the spacious north." 

The same idea is put into the mouth of La Pucelle by 
Shakespeare when he makes her (" King Henry VI.," Pt. i, 
Act v., 3) invoke the demons, as — 

"... Speedy helpers, that are substitutes 
Under the lordly monarch of the north." 

This fancy probably influenced the choice of grave-spaces ; 


and the fact that the south lies for the most part in warmth 
and sunlight, while the north is constantly enveloped in cold 
shadows, unquestionably gives a more attractive appearance 
to the former. Both these considerations perhaps joined to 
make the south side the usual position for the main entrance 
to a parish church ; and this further affected the question of 
burials ; since the graves which lay along the most frequented 
path would constantly appeal to the passers-by for their 
charitable prayers. 

It is considered unlucky for a wedding party to meet a 
funeral ; and in some few churchyards, where there are two 
or more entrances, the different processions use different 
gates. No bridal pair would under any conditions pass 
through the lych-gate at Barthomley, in Cheshire; and at 
Madeley, in Shropshire, funeral and wedding trains approach 
and leave by separate ways. The lych-gate, or corpse-gate, 
with its pent-house roof, is specially provided for the shelter 
of a funeral while awaiting the priest, but it is only in a few 
cases that it is exclusively used for that purpose; it is 
frequently, perhaps, where it exists, commonly, the principal 
gateway of the churchyard. Several good ancient examples 
of the lych-gate are found in Kent, as at Beckenham and 
Burnsall. There are now many excellent modern instances 
in all parts of the country. 

In Shropshire it is thought unlucky for the wedding 
carriages to be turned at the church door; so that they 
must either return to the house by some route different from 
that by which they came, or go some distance past the door 
for the purpose of turning elsewhere. A bridal party in the 
Isle of Man used to perambulate the church three times 
before entering it, according to Waldron's account of the 


customs of his own day (1726) ; and similarly a funeral at 
that date walked thrice around the churchyard cross. There 
was a singular custom, surviving well into the present 
century, in Shropshire, of decorating the churchyard gate for 
a wedding after a unique fashion. It is described in " The 
Memorials of a Quiet Life," as taking place at the author's 
wedding at Stoke-upon-Tern, in 1829; " all the silver spoons, 
tankards, watches, and ornaments of the neighbouring 
farmers were fastened on white cloths drawn over hoops, so 
as to make a kind of trophy on each side of the church gate, 
which is, I understand, a Shropshire custom." There are 
instances of this curious, yet not unpleasing, usage in the 
county so late as 1840. 

The churchyard has not, however, always been reserved 
to sacred uses ; our forefathers saw nothing incongruous in 
having both traffic and conviviality within its walls, and the 
Church had to protest continually against such unseemly 
practices. A quotation, given above, from S. Gregory in a 
letter of 601, shows how church wakes came to be celebrated 
within the sacred garth ; since he recommends that on the 
anniversary of the dedication of a church "booths be con- 
structed around them " for the celebration of the festival 
"with religious joyousness." It was not long, however, 
before the religious element began to take a secondary place 
in the village wake, and frolic amusement, often harmless 
enough in itself, but singularly unsuited to holy ground, 
became the foremost feature. The date of the wake was the 
Sunday nearest (either before or after) to the feast day of 
the church's patron saint ; and all kinds of rural sports, with 
dances and jollity, and the usual surroundings of a rural fair, 
filled up the day, mass having first been heard. Proiiably, 


SO far as possible, the rule was observed which obtained in 
Wales so late as 1804, of keeping the sports, although within 
the churchyard, to the north side of it. Malkin, writing at 
that date of the *' Scenery, Antiquities, and Biography of 
South Wales," says, " The custom of dancing in the church- 
yard at their feasts and revels is universal in Radnorshire, 
and very common in other parts of the Principality. Indeed, 
this solemn abode is rendered a kind of circus for every 
sport and exercise. The young men play at fives and tennis 
against the wall of the church. It is not, however, to be 
understood that they literally dance over the graves of their 
progenitors. This amusement takes place on the north side 
of the churchyard, where it is the custom not to bury." At 
Stoke S. Milborough, Shropshire, these churchyard sports 
were only dropped about the year 1820. 

The extent to which liberty in this respect ran into license 
is best shown by the character of the enactments against it. 
A provincial synod in Scotland in 1225 passed several 
canons, the sixty-seventh of which orders " that dances or 
filthy games which engender lasciviousness be not performed 
in churches and churchyards " ; and the seventy-fifth, " that 
wrestling matches or sports be not permitted in churches or 
churchyards upon any festivals." In 1368 Simon Langham, 
Archbishop of Canterbury, issued a mandate against 
markets being held on Sunday in the Isle of Sheppey so 
near the church as to interrupt the celebration of mass. A 
statute (13 Edward I., cap. 6) had already been passed 
forbidding the holding of markets and fairs in churchyards. 
There are other canons and injunctions which show that the 
disorders not infrequently invaded the sacred building itself ; 
but none of these efforts of the authorities seem to have 


been very eflFectual so far as regards the churchyard. That 

enclosure apparently came to be considered the public place 

of the parish. Fairs and markets were held there, not at 

the wake only, but at other times ; games of all kinds were 

played within it, and secular, as well as ecclesiastical, courts 

were held therein. Dramatic performances have been 

given in the churchyard of S. Chad's, Shrewsbury ; miracle 

plays were enacted, as a matter of course, on consecrated 

ground in many places. The York Fabric Rolls give 

numerous illustrations of the uses to which churchyards 

were put of old; in 1416 the parishioners of S. Michael-le- 

Belfry, York, complain " that a common market of vendibles 

is held in the churchyard on Sundays and holidays, and 

divers things, and goods, and rushes, are exposed there for 

sale, and horses stand over the bodies of the dead there 

buried, and defile the graves, to the great dishonour and 

manifest hindrance of divine worship, on account of the 

clamour of those who stand about;'' and in 1472 it was 

reported that in the parishes of "Helemsay et Stamfordbrig 

(Helmsley and Stamfordbridge) all the parishioners there hold 

pleas and other temporal meetings in the church and 

churchyard." Everywhere the ecclesiastical authorities 

evidently strove hard to preserve the sanctity of the place, 

but the habit had grown strong by gradual development, and 

was consequently deeply rooted before the effort to eradicate 

it was made in earnest; and by that time the popular 

conscience had become so used to such practises that it was 

no longer shocked by them. The playing of games in 

churchyards lingered on well into the present century ; a fair 

even was held in Pershore churchyard, Worcestershire, down 

to 1 838. But the revived church life of the latter half of 


the nineteenth century has succeeded in creating a higher 
tone in these matters ; the sacredhess of holy things and 
places is becoming more recognized ; and customs such as 
these die out. In early days they were largely permitted in 
simplicity ; they were suffered to continue through careless- 
ness ; we of to-day cannot plead the excuse of the former, it 
is well, therefore, that we should throw off the condemnation 
of the latter. 

A curious custom — one hesitates whether to count it a 
game or not — once obtained in several Midland parishes, 
under the name of "clipping the church." It existed at 
Ellesmere till nearly 1820 ; at Wellington it lasted until about 
i860; at Birmingham it was in vogue until about a century 
since; and at Edgmond was revived as recently as 1867 
with certain modern modifications. The point of the whole 
performance consists in a number of people joining hand in 
hand, and so completely surrounding the church in this 
fashion as to " clip," or embrace, it. In the two first-named 
parishes this used to be done by the school children, with a 
good deal of tumult and shouting, every Shrove Tuesday. 
In its revived form at Edgmond it constitutes part of the 
annual " feast " of the parish schools. The charity children 
clipped the church in Birmingham. At Bradford-on-Avon, 
also, this custom only died out within the last half-century. 
The origin of the practice seems to be unknown, but it is 
generally supposed to typify an affection for the old parish 

Another form of parochial festivity, which sometimes took 
place in the churchyard, was the Church-Ale, a method of 
procuring funds for charitable works which to us of to-day 
seems certainly strange, and to some even reprehensible ; 


yet it appears generally to have been conducted with decency 
and propriety. It was, in fact, nothing more than the 
" Parish Tea " of a bygone age, an age when tea itself was 
unknown, and home-brewed ale was the staple drink of the 
English people. The initiative of the Church-Ale was as a 
rule taken by the churchwardens. It is thus described by 
Philip Stubs, in his "Anatomie of Abuses," published in 
1595 : — "In certaine townes where dronken Bacchus beares 
swale, against Christmas, Easter, and Whitsondaie, or some 
other tyme, the churchwardens of every parishe, with the 
consent of the whole parishe, provide half a score or twentie 
quarters of mault, whereof some they buy of the churche 
stocks, and some is given them of the parishioners them- 
selves, every one conferring somewhat according to his 
abilitie, whiche maulte being made into very strong ale or 
here, is sette to sale either in the churche or some other 
place assigned to that purpose. Then when this is set 
abroche, well is he that can gete the soonest to it, and 
spend the most at it. In this kinde of practice they con- 
tinue sixe weekes, a quarter of a yeare, yea, half-a-yeare 
together. That money, they say, is to repaire their churches 
and chappels with, to buy bookes for service, cuppes for the 
celebration of the Sacrament, surplesses for Sir John, and 
such other necessaries." In this account we must allow for 
a certain amount of exaggeration, for the writer was a Puritan, 
who saw in a " May poale " a " stinking idol," and fancied 
the whole world was out of course. It is improbable that 
the Church- Ale was extended — unless in some very rare 
instances — to anything like the length spoken of by Stubs ; 
a day or two appears to have been the usual period ; and 
the churchyard, in which occasionally a bower was erected 


for the purpose, was not unusually the place, and not the 
church, for gathering the contributions of the people : though 
the scene of the feast was often the church-house, a neigh- 
bouring barn, or some other entirely secular spot. The 
behaviour of the people, also, can hardly have been such as 
Stubs hints at, since we find in 1651 as many as seventy- 
two parish priests in Somersetshire certifying that during a 
Church-Ale, not only was " the service better attended than 
on other days " (which perhaps is not surprising), but also 
that "the service of God was more solemnly performed."* 
There is a passage in Speght's " Glossary to Chaucer," which, 
although referring primarily to wakes, has its bearing on the 
conduct of the parishioners at such times as these. ** It was 
the manner," he says, "in times past .... for 
parishioners to meet in their church-houses or churchyards, 
and there to have a drinking-fit for the time ; here they used 
to end many quarrels between neighbour and neighbour ; 
hither came their wives in comely manner." The profits of 
these Ales were sometimes considerable, as one example 
will show. In 1532 an Ale was held in the village of 
Chaddesden for the purpose of helping the building of the 
tower of All Saints*, Derby, when a sum of ;^25 8s. 6d. 
clear was raised, equal to a very large amount, probably 
;^4oo, in modern money. Shakespeare alludes to these 
Ales in " Pericles ; " Gower (as Chorus) in the prologue says 
that the subject of the play 

" . . . halh been sung at festivals 
On ember eves, and holy ales." 

Rural sports usually accompanied the Church-Ale ; and 
it became a general parish festival. It must, however, in the 
nature of things have led to incidents regretable, if not 


actually disgraceful, at times ; and we may be thankful 
it is a thing of the past : even while we question whether 
some of the modern methods of raising money for charities 
are not quite as much open to criticism. 

We have seen that courts of law were sometimes held 
in churchyards ; we shall not be much surprised, therefore, 
at finding that the parish stocks commonly stood there. 
A usual position was just inside or outside the gate ; 
probably for much the same reason as led to the church 
door being used for parish notices, — each was a con- 
spicuously public place, which every parishioner was 
expected to pass. The stocks at Walton-on-the-Hill, 
Liverpool, stood against the churchyard wall, and were used 
as late as 1857 or 1858 ; at Crowle, in Lincolnshire, they 
were within the gate, and in this case also were used within 
the last half-century. The market-place was perhaps a more 
common situation in towns, but in villages the churchyard 
was often the only available open space. 

Secularized as the sacred enclosure of God's Acre too 
often was in the various ways above mentioned, it had 
after all a share in the services of the Church, besides those 
solemn rites which especially appertained to it as a grave- 
yard. The procession on Palm Sunday wound around it, 
and made its first station at the churchyard cross. A 
pulpit often stood within it, especially if it was the garth of 
a cathedral or other important church, and from this 
sermons were frequently preached to the crowd that stood 
around. Hereford, Worcester, and Norwich had their 
preaching crosses, or open-air pulpits, as well as London, 
whose " Paul's Cross " was famous. 

Public charities, in the form of doles, were also often 


distributed within this holy ground. Of these one of the 
most curious is the "Biddenden Maids Charity.'* In the 
parish of Biddenden, Kent, is a piece of land known as the 
"Bread and Cheese Land," from the fact that its rent is 
annually spent in those eatables for distribution among the 
poor on Easter Day. The charity is said to have been 
instituted by two maidens of the names of Mary and Eliza 
Chulkhurst, who were born in the year iioo joined together 
at hip and shoulder. For thirty-four years, so the story 
goes, they lived still united in this unnatural manner, and 
their effigies still mark the cakes given away in accordance 
with their will. The story is now discredited by antiquaries, 
though it was certainly believed in Biddenden for a long 
period. The charity is now distributed at the old work- 
house, but formerly this was done at the tower door of the 
church. A dole consisting of bread, purchased from the 
rent of the " White-bread Close " at Barford S. Michael's, 
Oxford, used until a few years since to be distributed in a 
most disorderly and promiscuous fashion. The loaves were 
simply flung to the people, who came in great numbers, not 
from that parish only, to be scrambled for in the churchyard. 
It is now given in a form and manner more likely to benefit 
the poor, than simply to reach the strong. Some seventy 
years since the good folk of Madron, Cornwall, witnessed 
a curious spectacle, consisting of an act of public penance. 
As they came out of church one Sunday, they found a servant 
of an old gentleman in the neighbourhood standing beside a 
large tombstone, on which loaves of bread were piled. To 
each poor parishioner that passed, the man handed a loaf, 
saying at the same time, " I, A. B., last week told my master 
a lie." 


At Thornton, near Sherbourne, Dorsetshire, there is a 
certain tombstone with a hole in it, within which the tenants 
of the lord of the manor place five shillings each S. Thomas' 
Day. So long as this is done annually before noon the 
tenants are free from any demand for the tithe of their hay. 

The churchyard at S. Germoe, Cornwall, has a curious 
stone structure known as S. Germoe's chair, or King 
Germoe's throne. It is variously alleged to have been a 
seat used by the royal saint, a chair for the priest officiating 
at some outdoor ceremony, and a resting-place for pilgrims 
to the founder's tomb. It is possible that it is the mutilated 
remains of the shrine of S. Germoe. Another Cornish 
legend of a patron saint comes from S. Dennis : it is alleged 
here that when the saint suffered decapitation in Paris, 
blood fell on the stones of this churchyard, and that the 
phenomenon had since been occasionally repeated, as a 
warning of impending calamity. 

Just as the tower now generally has its clock, so of old 
the churchyard usually had its sun-dial ; the measuring of the 
flight of time being no small part of the summons to prepare 
for eternity. In some cases the dial was placed horizontally 
on a pillar upon the south side of the church, at others a 
vertical dial was affixed to the external wall of the building, 
often just over the main entrance. Not a few churchyard 
dials still remain. At S. Anne's, Woodplumpton, is one 
dated 1598; another stands near the Cathedral Church of 
Manchester; Garstang, Lancashire, has one with the date 
1757 ; and in the same county, Hambleton, one dated 1670, 
and Heapey, one as late as 1826. The broken shaft of the 
old churchyard cross has been, in more than one instance, 
used as a pedestal for the dial ; such is the case at Shaw, in 


Lancashire, and at Crowle, in Lincolnshire. Several of the 


dials bear well-chosen mottoes. At Goosnargh is one, dated 
1 748, inscribed Vive memor quam sis aevi brevis (** Horace," 
Sat. ii., 6) ; at Aldingham we find a longer motto — 

** Use the present time ; 
Redeem the past ; 
For thus uncertainly, 
Though imperceptibly. 
The night of life approaches.'* 


CtAHB Anb :SunerAf6. 

" r T E that looks for urns and old sepulchral relicks," 
1 A says Sir Thomas Browne, in his " Hydriotaphia," 
"must not seek them in the ruins of temples, where no religion 
anciently placed them. These were found in a field, according 
to ancient custom in noble or private burial, the old practice 
of the Canaan ites, the family of Abraham, the burying-place 
of Joshua in the borders of his possessions ; and also agree- 
able unto Roman practice to bury by highways, whereby 
their monuments were under eye — memorials of themselves, 
and mementoes of mortality unto living passengers, whom 
the epitaphs of great ones were fain to beg to stay and look 
upon them, — a language though sometimes used, not so 
proper in church inscriptions. The sensible rhetoric of the 
dead, to examplarity of good life, first admitted the bones 
of pious men and martyrs within church walls, which in 
succeeding ages crept into promiscuous practice : while 
Constantine was peculiarly favoured to be admitted into the 
church porch, and the first thus buried in England was in 
the days of Cuthred." We have already seen that interment 
even in the churchyard was not a primitive practice, but it 
came gradually into use about the sixth century. The 
Council of Braga, in 563, permits burials around churches, 
but forbids them within;. the Council of Nantes, in 660, 
with the same prohibition, allows them in the atrium, or 


courtyard, and in all the subsidiary buildings, such as 
cloisters. The feeling that interment within the church was 
a mark of greater honour than burial in the garth, is illustrated 
by the legend of S. Swithin. The monks of Winchester, it 
is said, were anxious to translate his venerable relics from 
the common burial-ground to the chancel ; but the modesty 
of the saint was such that, at his intercession, it rained con- 
tinuously for forty days, so as to prevent them from carrying 
out their purpose. S. Swithin died in 862, and the feast of 
his translation is on July 15th. Whatever foundation (if 
any) there is for the story, the body was after all removed, 
and that twice; first by Bishop Ethelwold in 971, and again 
on the erection of the present cathedral by Bishop Walkelyn 
in 1093. 

Leaving, however, the purely historical question, let us 
turn to our English folk-lore and customs with regard to 
interments. And first of all the position of the grave claims 
our notice. We have already remarked that the site used 
almost always to be on some side of the church other than 
the north ; as a matter of fact, the south was the most com- 
monly used, and then the east ; the west is often scarcely 
more fully occupied than the north. But the direction of 
the grave was as much a settled arrangement as its situation. 
Guiderius, in Shakespeare's * Cymbeline,' says to his companion, 
who is about to dig a grave for the seemingly dead Imogen : 

** Nay, Cadwal, we must lay his head to the east ; 
My father hath a reason tor 't." 

This almost certainly means with the head so placed as to 
face the east ; according to the direction of Durandus, in 
the " De Officio Mortuorum," " everyone ought to be buried 
so that, the head being placed at the west, the feet are turned 


towards the east, in the same position as that in which he 
prays." This situation for the burial of a body is very 
ancient, and was very widely common, as is well illustrated 
by another passage from that store-house of mortuary lore, 
Browne's "Hydriotophia*' : "The Persians lay north and south, 
the Megarians and Phoenicians placed their heads to the 
east ; the Athenians, some think, towards the west, which 
Christians still retain. And Bede will have it to be the 
posture of our Saviour." One of the " Marprelate " tracts, 
" Martin's Month's Mind," published in 1589, says " he would 
not be laid east and west (for he ever went against the hair), 
but north and south." The Bishop of Ely, in his " Articles 
of Inquiry" of 1662, asks, "When graves are digged, are 
they made six feet deep (at the least), and east and west?" 
Thomas Hearne, the antiquary, who died in 1735, com- 
manded his executors to see, by means of a compass, that 
his grave lay exactly in that direction. 

For this custom there are several reasons given (as there 
are for the orientation of a church) besides those suggested 
by the Venerable Bede and by Durandus. Thus placed, 
facing the sunrise, the dead are, as it were, looking for the 
coming of the Great Day, for the rising once more of the 
" Sun of Righteousness " ; again there is a prophecy of the 
Second Advent (Zechariah xiv., 4) which declares that " His 
feet shall stand in that day upon the Mount of Olives, which 
is before Jerusalem on the East." In churchyards this 
position is still almost universally maintained for the graves ; 
in public cemeteries it has, unfortunately, been largely 

There is a superstition in many places that it is something 
worse than unlucky to be the first corpse buried in a new 


churchyard ; the Devil, in fact, is supposed to have an un- 
questionable claim to the possession of such a body. Ip 
Germany and in Scandinavia the enemy is sometimes 
outwitted by the interment of a pig or a dog, before any 
Christian burial takes place. For a long time the people 
were unwilling to use the churchyard of S. John's, Bovey- 
Traqey, for this reason ; and only began to do so after a 
stranger had been laid to rest therein. The same idea 
prevails in the North of England and in Scotland. There 
can be little doubt that in this we have a relic of the Pagan 
custom alluded to in a former chapter, namely, the oflfering 
of an animal, or even of a human, sacrifice at the foundation 
of a new building. Cases of the burial of animals in con- 
secrated ground are not wholly unknown in England, but it 
would be difficult probably to prove their connection with this 
weird fancy. In 1849, during some excavations within the 
Collegiate Church of Staindrop, Durham, a human skeleton 
was exhumed, with that of a dog at his feet. The man was 
supposed to have been a Neville, of Raby Castle, and the 
hound was probably in this case some special favourite with 
its master, killed and buried with him, with more than 
questionable good taste. 

The practice of placing in the grave specimens of such 
things as the dead specially regarded, or most frequently 
used, in life, is ancient and widespread ; and not unnatural 
amongst those Pagans who looked forward to a future life not 
greatly different in its requirements from the present one. 
Among Christians its use is less defencible. In the funeral 
urns, which formed the text of Sir Thomas Browne's famous 
treatise, were found ** substances resembling combs, plates 
like boxes, fastened with iron pins, and handsomely 



overwrought like the necks or bridges of musical instruments • 
long brass plates overwrought like the handles of neat imple- 
ments ; brazen nippers to pull away hair ; and in one a kind of 
opal, yet maintaining a bluish colour." Sometimes the idea is 
that of making provision for the journey to " that bourn from 
which no traveller returns." Thus, somewhat pathetically, 
the Esquimaux of Greenland lay a dog's head within the 
grave of an infant, that the sagacity of the former may guide 
the ignorance of the latter ; so the ancient Greeks provided 
their dead with the fare demanded by Charon for the ferry 
of the Styx. The Rev. S. Baring-Gould, in his " Curious 
Myths of the Middle Ages," quotes an instance known to 
himself as occurring in Cleveland, Yorkshire, only two years 
before the date of his writing, where a man was buried " with 
a candle, a penny, and a bottle of wine in his coffin : the 
candle to light him along the road, the penny to pay the 
ferry, and the wine to nourish him." These explanations 
were given by some rustic attendants at the funeral in 
question. The modern Greeks place parboiled wheat in the 
graves of their dead ; which they hold to signify in some 
way the resurrection. 

In the nature of the case the idea of lucky or unlucky days 
for funerals could hardly arise, as it has done with other 
ceremonies, the date of which lies more within the limits of 
choice : yet it is an ominous thing for a parish if a grave 
slnnd o|>en on a Sunday, for then, it is believed in 
(Uouceslershirc. another death will take place there within a 
moiUh» or. as some say, within a week. A somewhat similar 
suiH^rsniion exists in Alford, Lincolnshire ; where, if a dead 
bodv lie unlniritHl over a Sunday, it is expected that another 
k\cM\\ win toUow during the week* In Northumberland 


and Durham it is said that funerals go in triplets ; when one 
occurs, two others will quickly follow. Singularly enough 
the same idea prevails in Rome, concerning the sacred 
college ; the cardinals always die, they say, in threes. 

The weather may also have a meaning at a funeral. It is 
sometimes alleged that " Blessed are the dead whom the 
rain rains on"; but on the other hand, if the sun shines with 
special brightness in the face of anyone present at the funeral, 
it is to mark him out as the next to fall before the reaper Death. 

A strange idea was once held in the West of England, that 
the presence of the body of a still-born infant in a grave was 
a guarantee of the eternal salvation of whoever else occupied 
it. This was the belief within the present century at 
Devonport. In Northumberland, at Edmonton, near 
London, and elsewhere, it was customary to inter these 
infants in the next grave opened for some other person ; but 
it does not appear that any special virtue was attached to 
their presence. To tread upon the grave of a still-born 
child, or of one unbaptized, was supposed by the Border folk 
to produce an incurable disease, the "grave-merels.** 

At almost all times, and in nearly all lands, it has been 
usual to associate flowers with funerals. Their frail and 
short-lived beauty forms so obvious a type of the life of 
many, and to Christians their annual withering and blooming 
again comprise so attractive a picture of the resurrection of 
the body, that we can feel no surprise at their use. 

The body was often covered, or surrounded on its bier, 
with flowers. Friar Laurence (" Romeo and Juliet," Act iv., 
S) says :— 

" Dry up your tears, and stick your rosemary 
On this fair corse ; " 


and Queen Katherine (" King Henry VIIL," Act iv., 2) 
thus expresses her wishes : — 

** When I am dead, good wench, 
Let me be used with honour : strew me over 
With maiden flowers." 

In his description of " the faire and happy milkmaid,'* Sir 
Thomas Overbury says, " All her care is that she may die in 
the spring-time, to have store of flowers stucke upon her 
winding sheet.'* This custom was both more natural and 
more striking in days when open biers were more commonly 
used than coffins. Waldron, writing of the usages of the 
Manxmen in the early part of the eighteenth century, tells 
us that " the poor are carried only on a bier, with an old 
blanket round them fastened with a skewer." In England, 
coffins did not come into universal use till the end of the 
seventeenth century. In the terrier of the vicarage of 
Caistor, Lincolnshire, for 171 7, is this item: **For every 
grave in the churchyard and without coffin, fourpence, if 
with coffin, one shilling." The usage of coffinless burial 
survived in Ireland until about 18 18 as a traditional family 
custom of the Traceys, the Doyles, arid the Dalys, all of 
County Wexford. In London, however, biers seem to have 
gone out of fashion, at least in some districts, at a much 
earlier date ; for the vestry of S. Helen's, Bishopsgate, tuled 
in 1564 " that none shall be buryd within the church, unless 
the dead corpse be coffined in wood." A parish coffin, for 
the general use of the poorer parishioners, was often pro- 
vided, and one example still exists at Easingwold, Yorkshire ; 
and at Youghal a coffin-shaped recess in the churchyard wall 
originally held such a one, when not in use. In these cases, 
of course, the body was buried only in its winding sheet. 


This comparatively modern use of coffins will account for 
a fact that must often have struck the reader, namely, that 
whereas a graveyard now fills up with great rapidity, old 
burial-grounds served their parishes for many centuries. 
When no coffins (much less leaden ones, brick graves, and 
other such abominations) were used, the grave spaces were 
much more quickly ready for use again. Hence the 
difference in the charges at Caistor and elsewhere. 

From this not irrelevant digression, we return once more 
to the use of flowers. The friends forming the funeral 
procession frequently carry foliage or flowers of some kind. 
A Frenchman, Mons. Jorevin de Rocheford, describing the 
obsequies of a nobleman, as witnessed by himself in England 
in 1672, speaks of the pall-bearers, the friends, and even the 
priest, carrying each a bough, which they afterwards dropt 
upon the coffin. Rosemary was often carried in this way, a 
fact to which Gay alludes in his "Pastoral Dirge"; and 
Cartwright's " Ordinary " also has the lines : — 

** Prithee see they have 
A sprig of rosemary, dipp'd in common water, 
To smell at as they walk along the streets." 

The choice of this plant is explained for us by Ophelia, who 
says (" Hamlet,'' Act iv., 5) : — 

" There's rosemary, that's for remembrance ; " 


Drayton, too, in his " Eclogues," tells us how there sent 

** ilim rosemary his sweetheart, whose intent 
Is that he her should in remembrance have." 

In some places now, everlastings are considered the 
"correct" blossoms for the occasion, but generally no 
special flower has precedence ; the best procurable being 
used, with a preference, however, for white ones. 


^Vhite's " Anliquities of Selborne " says of the church of 
that parish, " In the middle aisle there is nothing remark- 
able; but I remember when its beams were hung with 
garlands in honour of young women of the parish, reputed 
to have died virgins ; and recollect to have seen the cleric's 
wife cutting, in white paper, the resemblance of gloves, and 
ribbons to be twisted in knots and roses, to decorate these 
memorials of chastity. In the church of Farringdon, which 
is the next parish, many garlands of this sort stiil remain." 
White, who died in 1793, at the age of seventy-three years, 
seems to imply that the custom of bearing these virgins' 
garlands had gone out before his time in his neighbourhood, 
though the garlands themselves were still to be seen hanging 
in churches. A paper read before the Society of Antiquaries 
in June, 1747, spoke of the custom as having been "used 
formerly in several parts of this kingdom." 

The usage thus alluded to was for some girl, of about the 
age of the deceased, to carry a garland before the cofBn of a 
maiden; and after the funeral this was suspended in the 
church. Most of the notices which we have of these 
emblems speak of them as being composed of paper flowers, 
adorned with ribbons, and having suspended within them a 
pair of imitation white gloves,* upon which was written the 
maiden's name. No doubt at first both the flowers and the 
gloves were real. A writer in the " Antiquarian Repertory " 
thus describes the usual form which these garlands latterly 
took : — "The lower rim or circle was a broad hoop of wood, 
whereunto was fixed at the sides thereof part of two other 

• White gloves 
maidenhood ; wilr 
sides at what, by a 

■ evidently of old considered 10 be emblematic of 
the custom of giving a, pair to the judge who pre- 
imon figure of speech, is called a maidin assize. 


hoops, crossing each other at the top at right angles, which 
formed the upper part, being about one-third longer than 
the width : these hoops were wholly covered with artificial 
flowers of paper, dyed horn, and silk . . . ; in the 
vacancy of the inside from the top hung white paper cut in 
form of gloves, whereon was written the deceased's name, 
age, etc., together with long slips of various coloured paper 
or ribbons ; these were many times intermixed with gilded 
or painted empty shells of blown eggs, as further ornaments 
. . . while other garlands had only a solitary hour-glass 
hanging therein." 

There are many references to these garlands, or crowns 
as they might be more accurately called, in our poets. Gay 
says : — 

" To her sweet memory flow'ry garlands strung, 
On her now empty seat aloft were hung." 

Miss Seward, alluding to Eyam Church, Derbyshire, wrote 
in 1792 : — 

" Now the low beams with paper garlands hung, 
In memory of some village youth or maid, 
Draw the soft tear, from thrill'd remembrance sprung ; 
How oft my childhood marked that tribute paid ! " 

Shakespeare makes the priest say of Ophelia (" Hamlet,'' Act 
v., i), "She is allowed her virgin crants," using the German 
word for crown. Of these garlands many examples survived 
until recent times, and some few are still found hanging in 
their original places. Brand, the author of the "Popular 
Antiquities," which he wrote about 1795, mentions garlands 
seen by himself at Stanhope and at Wolsingham in the 
county of Durham. Several churches round Shrewsbury 
possessed examples down to about the middle of the present 


century; Shrawardine had several till about 1840, Little 
Ness Chapel had one in 1825, and Han wood another till 
1856. Astley Abbots, near Bridgenorth, and Acton Burwell 
still have (or very recently had) examples ; and the same is 
true of Abbott's Ann, Hampshire. Winsterley, Shropshire, 
however, has been most mindful of its maidens' memories, 
for it has retained no fewer than seven of these crowns. 
Derbyshire used to have several of these, some of which are 
still preserved in places other than the church. Matlock 
formerly had eight of them, Ashford-in-the-Water, near 
Bakewell, has (or had) five, and Wingfield, near Alfreton, 
one. In some places the garlands were buried, and not hung 
in church ; in others they were suspended for twelve months 
and then removed ; in those instances where they yet exist 
it would seem to have been customary to allow them to 
hang until dust or decay necessitated their removal. A 
number were taken out of Heanor Church some years since 
during a thorough cleaning of the building. 

In some parts of Wales sprigs of bay are sprinkled along 
the path before the funeral train. The " brethren " of 
a friendly society usually carry small pieces of box or other 
evergreen, when they follow the remains of one of the 
fraternity ; and after the service is concluded, they drop these 
emblems of abiding remembrance upon the coffin. 

From thus adorning the bier of the dead it was a natural 
step to a similar treatment of the grave. " In strewing their 
tombs," says Sir Thomas Browne, " the Romans affected 
the rose ; the Greeks amaranthus and myrtle ; " the Queen, 
standing by the grave of Ophelia (" Hamlet," Act v., i), says — 

** Sweets 10 the sweet, farewell ! 
I hoped thou shooldst have been my Hamlet's wife ; 


I thought thy bride-bed to have deck'd, sweet maid, 
And not have strew'd thy grave." 

Shakespeare has other allusions to this practice in " Romeo 
and Juliet," " Cymbeline," and " Pericles." Every morning 
and evening for many days after his funeral the tomb of 
Dr. Donne, in old S. Paul's, was strewn with costly flowers. 
There is a tomb in Tonge Church, Staffordshire, to the 
memory of a member of the Vernon family, on which 
a garland of roses is placed each Midsummer Day. It 
is said that this is the relic of an ancient land tenure, by 
which Henry de Hugefort held certain lands in Norton and 
Shaw by the service of bringing a chaplet of roses to Roger 
de la Zouch, lord of the manor, on S. John Baptist's Day ; 
and if he were absent from Tonge, the flowers were to 
be offered at the shrine of Our Lady in the church. The 
shrine having long since disappeared, the custom arose 
of placing the wreath on the nearest tomb, which chanced 
to be that of the said Vernon. Samuel Pepys, in his Diary, 
under date April 26th, 1662, writes, "To Gosport ; and 
so rode to Southampton ; in our way ... we observed 
a little churchyard, where the graves are accustomed to 
be sowed with sage." 

The remembrance of the departed, as exhibited in a 
decent care for their resting-places, has sensibly increased in 
England in recent years. Graves are less frequently found 
neglected an^ forgotten, with moss-covered stone and 
weed-grown mound ; and churchyards are kept more 
reverently and tastefully. Much that made graves and 
funerals hideous in the past has happily gone out of fashion ; 
the nodding plumes, the mutes with their black staves, the 
" weepers " and sashes, these are for the most part gone. 


And in their place the bright beauty of the flowers comes 
with its lesson of mortality, not the less searching because 
tender and gentle. So far we have gained much on our 
forefathers of the last two or three generations, in whqse 
days tastelessness reigned supreme in these things. But we 
have to guard against the danger — or rather to protest with 
all our souls against the already accomplished intrusion, — 
of the spirit of vulgarity, which is rampant in our age ; 
a spirit which shows itself no less in the ostentatious display 
of costly flowers in the funerals of the rich, than in the 
tawdry metal frauds that profess to simulate flowers upon 
the graves of the poor. Here, if nowhere else, surely the 
only good taste is simplicity and truth. 

Some days are especially sacred to the adornment of the 
graves of the departed. The anniversary of the death 
usually brings its tribute of affectionate recollection to tha. 
separate mounds ; but Easter Day, with its message of hope, 
is generally marked by a special offering laid on many 
of them. Whit Sunday is also sometimes similarly observed, 
and sixty years ago at Farndop, Cheshire, it was the rule on 
this festival to cover the graves with rushes neatly arranged 
and with flowers. In South Wales, Palm Sunday is called 
Flowering Sunday, from the fact that the graves are adorned 
with fresh flowers on that day ; the same custom obtains in 
Shropshire. On the Continent, All Souls' Day (November 
2nd) finds almost every grave in the cemeteries watched 
and tended by some tearful mourner; but though that 
solemn day is increasingly regarded in England, devotion 
has not yet turned largely in this direction upon its 

Other ways of adorning a grave or a tomb, beside the 


simple array of flowers, were formerly known. Among these 
we must mention the herse^ or hearse ; a wooden structure 
consisting of pillars crossed by bars, and surmounted by an 
open gabled roof, sconces for candles being provided at 
various points of it. This, which the French call a chapelle 
ardente^ and we of to-day, adopting the Italian term, a cata- 
falquCy was placed over the tomb in the church, and some- 
times over the grave in the open churchyard, and kept there 
for a longer or shorter period. This hearse was draped in 
black, candles were kept burning on it at intervals during 
its continuance in use, and sometimes an effigy of the dead 
lay beneath it. There are traditions of its use at S. Chad's, 
Shrewsbury, and at Lichfield ; and at Tansfield, near Ripon, 
one may still be seen over the tomb of Sir Robert Marmion 
and his wife. This is of wrought iron with sconces for seven 
candles. The hearses of wealthy, and especially of royal 
personages, were often very ornate. Queen Mary's hearse 
was ornamented with wax angels; Inigo Jones designed 
the one used at the funeral of James I., which was covered 
with small flags, and included emblematic statues. The 
last used in England was that .of Queen Mary II. in 1694. 
Over or upon these hearses laudatory verses were often 
affixed, and the escutcheons and accoutrements of knights 
were hung. The lines of Ben Jonson on the death of the 
Countess of Pembroke are well known ; they commence : — 

** Underneath this sable herse, 
Lies the subject of all verse." 

Laertes (" Hamlet," Act iv., 5) speaking of his father's 
murder, complains of 

** His means of death, his obscure burial, — 
No trophy, sword, nor hatchment, o'er his bones." 


Other ways of adorning the hearse are alluded to in the 
following two passages ; Habingdon, in his " Castara," has 
the lines 

** Lily, rose, and violet 
Shall the perfumed hearse beset ; " 

and Dryden, in his Marriage d la Mode (Act ii., i) makes 
one of his characters say, 

" Maidens, when I die, 
Upon my hearse white true-love knots should tie." 

From the year 1666 to 18 14 it was illegal to clothe any 
body for burial in anything not manufactured of wool ; but 
the Act enforcing this was disregarded for a considerable 
part of that time. The first law on the matter, passed in 
the first-named year, proved so ineffective that a second was 
enacted in 1678. Under this it was decreed that **Noe corpse 
of any person or persons shall be buried in any Shirt, Shift, 
Sheete, or Shroud, or any thing whatsoever made or mingled 
with Flax, Hempe, Silke, Haire, Gold, or Silver, or any Stuflfe 
or thing other than what is made of Sheep's Wooll onely, or 
be put in any coffin lined or faced with any sort of Cloath or 
Stuflfe or any thing whatsoever that is made of any 
Materiall but Sheep's Wooll onely, upon paine of the 
forfeiture of five pounds of lawfull money of England." 
To ensure obedience to this statute, which was passed in 
aid of the woollen manufacture of the country, it was 
provided that an affidavit should be made in each case 
before a justice of the peace, or some other authorised 
person, and that a register of the fact that all had been 
done as required should be kept by the parish priest. The 
parish registers of that, and the following, century have 


frequent notes in accordance with this law. Thus at 
Newburn-on-Tyne we find this entry : — 

** 1687, 18. Aug. Cuthbert Longbridge was buried in woollen, 
as by a certificate dated 24. Aug. 1687." 

Sometimes the raw material was used, as in a case 
registered at Lamesley, Durham, where we read, 

" 1678. Anne Marley wrapped in sheep's skin, bur." 

The lines in which Pope refers to this custom (alluding, 
it is generally supposed, to the death of Mr^. Oldfield, the 
actress) have been often quoted : — 

** Odious ! in woollen ! * twould a saint provoke. 
(Were the last words that poor Narcissa spoke) : 
No, let the charming chintz, and Brussels lace 
Wrap my cold limbs, and shade my lifeless face." 

The registers also contain notices of instances where, from 
neglect, or in the cases of wealthy persons from choice, the 
law was ignored and the penalty paid. At Witney, Oxford- 
shire, the following entries have been made : " Sent out a 
Note that no certificate had been brought to me concerning 
Baker's daughter being in Burying Clothes made of Sheeps- 
woole only, which Note He delivered to David Flexyn, 
Overseer of the Poor"; and again in 1689-90, "Buried ye 
honourable Richd Lord Viscount Wenman ; the 31st I sent 
a Note to ye Churchwardens that I understood the Body of 
sd. Lord Wenman was wrapt up in Burying Cloths not 
made of Sheepswool only, and they rec^ two pounds and 
ten shillings being the forfeiture to the Poor of the Parish 
according to the Woollen Act." 

The Act was never so universally obeyed as to establish 
a custom ; some families were willing to pay the penalty in 
order to wrap their deceased relatives in linen, according to 


the older usage; and gradually the insistence upon con- 
formity relaxed, so that long ere the repeal of the statute in 
1 8 14 it had practically been in abeyance. 

It was sometimes customary to inter the body clothed as 
in life. Friar Lawrence (" Romeo and Juliet,*' Act iv., 5) 
says of Juliet, 

*' As the custom is, 
In all her best array bear her to church " ; 

such is still the usage in France ; and ecclesiastics and the 
" religious " have generally been interred in their habits or 

To " pay. the last mark of respect " to a deceased neigh- 
bour (as attendance at his funeral is conventionally termed) 
is a duty highly considered, especially in country places. 
Of old it was common to send the bellman round to give 
public notice, that all who would might be present. At 
Barnard Castle, Durham, a funeral in the forenoon used to 
be looked upon as a private function, and no one presumed 
to attend but those who were specially invited; in the 
afternoon, however, it was a different matter, and all who 
could, especially the women, made a point of being present. 
The concourse of people at a Manx funeral was frequently 
very great ; " the people of this Island," says an account of 
Man at the end of the eighteenth century, *'(I mean the 
country farmers and their good wives, together with many 
handicraft people) esteem a funeral attendance as one of 
their very first entertainments." 

The bearers, who carry the coffin from the church gate 
into the church, and again thence to the grave, are chosen 
according to the sex and age of the deceased ; men carrying 
a man, women a woman, and so forth. White scarves and 


gloves are usually worn by them for a child's funeral ; and 
in the case of a young girl, her companions, who perform 
this last office for her, often wear white hoods. These old 
customs were at one time almost universal, but are now 
dying out rapidly in towns. It is to be hoped that the 
country will long keep the good old fashion of utilizing the 
willing service of friends for this sad rite, rather than the 
hired assistance of " undertakers' men." 

Both friends and bearers at the stately obsequies of pre- 
Reformation days bore torches and tapers ; at the funeral of 
Kling Henry V. at Westminster it is said that no less than 
1,400 lights were carried ; at *he funeral of^Sir John 
Gresham in 1556 there were "four dozen of great staff 
torches, and a dozen of great long torches." M. Jorevin de 
Rocheford, already quoted, whose account refers to the year 
1672, speaks of flambeaux carried at a nobleman's funeral. 
In state obsequies this striking custom survived down to the 
end of the last century at least. The following is part of a 
contemporary account of the ceremonial at the funeral of 
George II. at Westminster Abbey in 1760 : " At the entrance 
within the church, the Dean and Prebendaries in their copes, 
attended by the choir, all having wax tapers in their hands, 
are to receive the royal body, and are to fall into the pro- 
cession just before the Clarenceux King of Arms, and are so 
to proceed singing." It was probably this practice that 
suggested the Welsh superstition of the corpse-candle, a 
mysterious light that travels along the path which the next 
funeral is to take. Sometimes a skull accompanies the light, 
sometimes the apparition of the person who is to die carries 
it, occasionally the mourners are seen to follow : it passes 
into the church, and then hovers above the place where the 


grave will be. One tradition has it that this appearance 
was granted to the diocese of S. David, in answer to his 
prayer that his people might have evidence of the unseen 

An old fancy prevalent in Yorkshire was that the funeral 
on coming to the churchyard must on no account go 
" against the sun " ; and consequently the procession would 
sometimes go right round the church to get to the door, 
rather than take the more direct and usual path. Pennant 
says that at Skyv'og, in North Wales, the bearers would 
bring the corpse into the churchyard by no " other way than 
the south gate." Both usages probably have some connec- 
tion with the sun-worship of our Celtic forebears. 

Pennant, again, in the passage just quoted, alleges that in 
that parish the service in the church consisted of the form 
of evening prayer followed by the office for the burial of the 
dead. This usage seems to have been unique. The 
service itself is for the most part singularly free from local 
peculiarities in its details, and varies little, beyond the 
occasional introduction of hymns in church or at the 
grave-side. This is in accordance with ancient custom, 
which has employed music in the mortuary offices in almost 
all lands. Using Shakespeare's words (" Cymbeline," Act 
iv., 2), it seems to follow naturally on the death of man to 
" sing him to the ground." 

From the church the body is carried feet foremost to its 
" long home," an attitude that strikes Sir Thomas Browne 
as " consonant to reason, as contrary to the native posture 
of man, and his first production into the world"; and 
which is thus referred to in an epigram of the time of 
James I. : — 


" Nature, which headlong into life did throng us. 
With our feet foremost to our grave doth bring us ; 
What is less ours than this our borrowed breath ? 
We stumble into life, we goe to death." 

That impressive detail of the burial ceremony, the 
scattering of earth upon the coffin, was formerly performed 
by the priest himself. In the first Prayer-book of King 
Edward VI., the rubric ran, " Then the priest casting earth 
upon the corpse, shall say." In the second book this was 
altered to "Then while the earth shall be cast upon the 
body by some standing by, the priest shall say ; "^ and so 
the words remain in the present book. The earlier rubric 
is more in accord with ancient precedent, which receives an 
illustration from the words of Shakespeare's Shepherd in 
"The Winter's Tale" (Act iv., 3),— 

** Some hangman must put on my shroud, and lay me 
Where no priest shovels in dust." 

There is a north country superstition that if one standing 
at a considerable distance from the grave hears the fall 
of the earth upon the coffin, it is a sign to him of a death 
in his family. Browne, in his " Hydriotaphia," sees in the 
threefold throwing of the earth something of a parallel 
to the thrice-uttered valediction to the dead among the 

An idea was prevalent not long ago in Cornwall that 
a sore might be cured by passing the hand of a dead body 
over it, and then dropping the bandage which wrapped it 
into the grave, during the reading of the burial service; 
but there is no virtue in the hand of a relative. 

The exhumation of a body is held in many places (as in 
Northamptonshire, Leicestershire, and in other counties) to 
be in the highest degree unlucky for the family of the 



deceased. Every effort, it is said, was made to dissuade 
King James I. from removing the body of his mother, 
Mary Queen of Scots, from her first grave, on the plea that 
evil would result from such an act. James's eldest son, 
Henry, died soon after, and the subsequent history of 
the Stuarts was certainly unhappy enough. To disturb 
human remains, even accidentally, is thought in the Isle of 
Man to be ominous. When, some years since, alterations 
were being made in the interior of the church at Manghold, 
some bones were uncovered; and the building was filled 
with mysterious murmurings and whisperings ; which, how- 
ever, were lulled once more to silence by the reverend haste 
with which the bones were again buried. 

There are quaint stories told of several grave-stones in 
different parts of the country. In Tettenhall churchyard, 
Staffordshire, is a worn stone on which is carved a figure 
resembling a head and body without limbs. Here, the 
local chroniclers relate, lies a woman who persisted in 
spinning on Sunday. Having been severely reproved by her 
neighbours, she promised to reform, and impiously wished 
that, if she broke her promise, "her arms and legs might 
drop off." Old habits proved too strong for her ; and one 
Sunday she turned again to her wheel, and set it murmuring 
through the room, while she spun the twirling threads, — 
when lo ! her horrible wish was fulfilled, and she was in a 
moment reduced to helplessness. In the cathedral garth at 
Durham is the effigy of a man holding a glove in one hand. 
This is variously said to represent " Hubbapella," the steward 
at the time of the erection of the abbey, whose glove was 
nightly filled with money by a miracle, so that he might pay 
for the next day's work ; and that of a man who leapt from 


the tower for a purse of gold, which he is supposed here to 
hold. In Wickhampton Church, Norfolk, is the tomb of 
Sir W. Gerbrygge and his wife, whose effigies lie upon it as 
if in prayer, holding in their hands two oval pieces of stone. 
The story here is, that these are two brothers, who, having 
quarrelled over the boundaries of their respective lands, 
fought until they tore each other's hearts out; and were 
then turned to stone with the hearts in their hands, as a 
warning to future ages ! All these stories illustrate the 
tendency of the rustic mind to explain everything about him 
"somehow"; let a stone be never so quaintly carved, or 
strangely placed, let it be the despair of antiquaries, and 
its inscription be a standing puzzle to the scholar, yet the 
local folk will see no difficulty, but will have some legend 
ready to hand which will fully account for everything. 

The subject of epitaphs is far too great to be treated here. 
In their composition, or their selection, every characteristic 
of the human mind has been displayed. We have poetry 
and bathos, dignified and appropriate sentiment, and foolish, 
ill-timed jests, reverent devotion and thoughtless ignorance, 
pride, envy, love, malice, — every phase of expression and of 
feeling. Let two examples alone suffice, the one remarkable 
for its brevity, and the other interesting from its literary 
associations. In the cloister at Worcester lies the non-juror 
Morris, in whose eyes the nation had departed from the 
truth, and wandered into hopeless error both in Church and 
State. Over his remains is a nameless slab, inscribed with 
but one pathetic word, 


In the churchyard at Bowes, in Yorkshire, — a parish within 
the district in which Sir Walter Scott lays the action of 

J -J 


" Rokeby,*' and in which also Charles Dickens discovered 
" Dothebo)rs Hall," — is a tombstone commemorating the 
unhappy pair whom Mallet has immortalized as " Edwin 
and Emma." The stone was erected in 1848 at the cost of 
the late Dr. Dinsdale, and bears the following inscription : — 

"Roger Wrightson, Jun., and Martha Railton, both of Bowes. 
Buried in one grave. He died in a fever, and upon tolling his 
passing bell, she cry'd out, My heart is broke, and in a Few hours 
expired purely thro* Love. March 15, 17^4-. 

Such is the brief and touching record 
Contained in the Parish Register of Burials. 
It has been handed down 
By unvarying tradition that the grave 
Was at the West end of the church, 
Directly beneath the bells. 
The sad history of these true and 
Faithful lovers forms the subject of 
Mallet's pathetic Ballad of 
* Edwin and Emma.' " 


THE idea of likening the Church of Christ to a ship 
voyaging across a stormy sea is very ancient, and 
perhaps arose from S. Peter's use of the ark of Noah as an 
emblem. In his first Epistle (iii., 20-21), he speaks of "the 
days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, 
that is eight, souls were saved by water; the like figure 
whereunto baptism doth also now save us " ; and to this 
passage there is an obvious allusion in a collect in the 
Baptismal Office of the English Church which prays for the 
admission of the neophyte " into the ark of Christ's Church." 
The transference of the thought to the material building is 
a simple act, which early occurred. In the "Apostolical 
Constitutions " — a work of debated age, but almost certainly 
earlier than the Council of Nicaea in 325 a.d. — the reference 
of the figure both to the body of the faithful and to the 
place of their worship is found in the same passage. In the 
fifty-seventh chapter we read of the bishop as " one that is 
commander of a great ship " ; he is bidden to see that the 
building " be long . . . and so it will be like a ship," 
and the deacons are to attend him " in close and small girt 
garments, for they are like the mariners and managers of the 
ship " ; and again, " if anyone be found sitting out of his 
place let him be rebuked by the deacon, as a manager of the 


This piece of symbolism has become stereotyped in more 
than one language by the use of some term meaning 
ship for the larger part of the church, occupied by the laity. 
It is thus that we get the word nave^ from the Latin navis. 
The use of the emblem has been pushed to an extreme in the 
case of the church of Ss. Vincent and Anastasius at Rome, 
where the walls are curved like the hull of a vessel ; and at 
Payerne, where is a nave of uneven width, typifying, it is 
said, a ship beaten by the wave. 

Anciently the floors of our churches were often unpaved, 
or only paved roughly ; and even where they were covered 
with stones or tiles, they were exceedingly cold to the feet, 
carpets and matting being almost unknown. The floors of 
private houses were strewn with rushes, a custom illustrated 
by a manuscript, "History of a moste horrible Murder 
comyttyd at Fevershame in Kente," in the days of King 
Edward VI. ; wherein we are told that, after the crime, the 
miscreants " toke a clowt and wyped where it was blowdy, 
and strewyd agayne y« rushes that were shuffled w'*» 
strugglinge " ; and, further, the body being subsequently 
found in a field, but with rushes " stickynge in his slippars," 
it was concluded that he had been slain within a house. 
Very naturally, therefore, this custom was transferred to the 
church ; so that Thomas Newton, in his " Herball to the 
Bible" (published in 1587), speaks of "Sedge and rushes, 
with the which many in the country do use in summer time 
to strawe their parlors and churches, as well for cooleness as 
for pleasant smell." 

The provision of the needful supply of rushes was 
accompanied with no little ceremony, and generally took 
place at the dedication festival of the church. The 

THE NAVE. 103 

parishioners went forth in a goodly company to cut the 
rushes ; and having done this, piled them on a cart adorned 
with ribbons, flowers, and coloured papers cut into patterns. 
Accompanied with music and singing, and cheered by the 
pealing of bells, the load was brought in triumph to the 
church; here the rushes were deposited, and the people 
filled up the day with feasting and merriment. In his 
Injunctions to the laity of the Province of York, issued 
about 1 57 1, Archbishop Grindal orders "That no . . . 
minstrels, morrice-dancers, or others, at rush-bearings, or 
at any other times, come unreverently into any church, or 
chapel, or churchyard." The custom, without (let us hope) 
any such irregular accompaniment, has survived to our own 
day in some few places, as at Ambleside, and until recently 
in several other parishes in the Lake district and other 
remote spots. 

Churchwardens' accounts frequently allude to this method 
of covering the floor. In the parish of S. Mary-at-Hill, 
London, the sum of fourpence was paid in 1504 "for 2 
Berden Rysshes for the strewing the newe pewes"; at 
S. Margaret's, Westminster, is. 5d. was disbursed for rushes 
in 1544; and at S. Laurence's, Reading, there is an entry, 
dated 1602, "Paid for flowers and rushes for the churche 
when the Queen was in town, xxd." Rushes, although 
evidently so much the most common as to be the typical 
covering for the church floor, were, nevertheless, not the 
only things employed for the purpose, local circumstances, 
doubtless, often rendering a substitute more easy to procure. 
Thus at Norwich we find that pea-straw was sometimes used ; 
at Old Weston, Huntingdonshire, a piece of land belongs to 
the parish clerk, on condition of its being mown before the 


local feast in July, and the grass strewn on the church floor ; 
grass was also used at Pavenham, Bedfordshire, where the 
churchwardens claimed, until the demand was commuted for 
a money payment, as much grass as could be cut and carted 
away from a certain field between sunrise and sunset. 
Sometimes the covering appears to have been varied 
according as the season made the cooling or the warming of 
the feet of the worshippers desirable; at Deptford, for 
example, a sum of money was left to the parish to provide, 
among other things, half a load of rushes for the church at 
Whitsuntide, and a load of pea-straw at Christmas. This 
is not the only bequest of this nature, and occasionally a 
land-tenure has taken this form ; a small farm in the Isle of 
Man, for instance, being held by this service, the owner 
having to supply the neighbouring church with rushes. 

Little or no provision was made in early times for seating 
the congregation. Sermons did not then fill the large part 
of the public service which they afterwards came to do in 
some places, and the scriptural lections were short ; 
consequently the people were expected to stand or kneel 
almost all the time. Occasionally, as at Bottesford, stone 
seats were provided running round the pillars, or in the 
recesses of the walls ; but these would accommodate so few, 
that only the aged and the infirm would be likely to use 
them. Nevertheless open benches were sometimes placed 
in churches long before the Reformation. At a synod held 
at Exeter, in 1287, it was decreed as follows: "We have 
heard also that the inhabitants of parishes repeatedly quarrel 
about seats in a church, two or more persons laying claim to 
one seat, which is a cause of much scandal, and often 
produces an interruption in the service ; we decree that no 

• *i 

THE NAVE. 105 

person shall for the future be able to claim any seat as his 
own, with the exception of noblemen and the patrons of the 
churches ; but that if a person shall first enter a church to 
pray there, he may choose whatever place he will/' Coming 
down to Reformation times, we find John Bradford, in a 
letter dated 1553, speaking of some who so far conformed as 
to hear mass, but were accustomed instead of worshipping 
to "sit still in their pews." Stubs also, in his " Anatomie 
of Abuses" (published in 1585), tells how morris-dancers 
sometimes invaded churches during divine service, and that 
at their coming the congregation " mount upon the formes 
and pewes to see these goodly pageants." There are 
examples of ancient carved benches in the churches of 
Caxton, Finedon, Nettlecombe, Talland, Lavenham, 
Shellesley, Walsh, Long Melford, and Langley Marsh. The 
oldest dated instance that we have is at Geddington, where 
in the north aisle is a bench on which is carved — 

Churchwardens William Thorn. 

John Wilkie. 
Minister Thomas Jones. 1602. 

The bench-ends were often elaborately and handsomely 
carved. At Lew Trenchard are several of this kind ; on one 
is the figure of S. Michael weighing souls, another has the 
portrait of a lady with a jester in cap and bells beneath, and 
a third the efiigy of a man, with an embattled gateway 
beneath ; others have shields charged with the instruments 
of the Passion. Cornwall is especially rich in this form of 
decoration. The bench-ends of the county, made usually of 
chestnut, are frequently panelled in a design like a traceried 
window, and the panels are further enriched with devices. 
The emblems of saints are often represented, as the wheel 


of S. Catherine at Poughill. Coats-of-arms and designs 
typical of various industries probably commemorate thedonors 
of the several pieces of work : at Mullion the anvil, bellows, 
and other requisites of the blacksmith are found; at Altarnun 
a number of sheep and rams ; at Stratton a rudder ; and in 
many places initial letters. Launcells has the various 
implements suggestive of the events of the first Holy Week ; 
the thirty pieces of silver, the ewer, bason, and towel of the 
feet-washing, S. Peter^s sword with the ear of Malchus 
beside it, and the more usual emblems, lantern, seamless 
robe, the cross, the sacred wounds, and so forth. Secular 
scenes are also sometimes found; Launcells has hunting 
scenes, Altarnun a sword-dance; and birds, beasts, and 
fishes are not of infrequent occurrence. At Zennor one of 
the bench-ends has the figure of a mermaid, "whereby," 
according to local tradition, " hangs a tale." Many, many 
years ago, so they say, a beautiful lady came to the church 
at Zennor, and sang so divinely as to enrapture all who 
heard ; none saw whence she came, or whither she went, and 
although she appeared at intervals for several years, she never 
seemed to grow older. One young man, bolder than the 
rest, or more enchanted, at last followed her when she left 
the church one Sunday ; but he never returned to tell his 
tale. Long after this a vessel sailed into Pendower Cove 
one Sunday, and cast anchor ; when a lovely mermaid rose 
from the water, and politely asked the skipper to shift his 
mooring, as his cable barred the entrance to her dwelling. 
On the report of this incident reaching Zennor, it was at 
once felt that this must be the mysterious stranger who had 
beguiled the young man away. And here to this day is 
her effigy in the church. At Trull, in Somersetshire, is an 

THE NAVE. 107 

exceedingly interesting series of bench-ends, representing the 
procession to the altar before high mass. We have two 
acolytes bearing the cross, and a torch, followed by the three 
sacred ministers; all are vested in garments that are 
singularly short according to modern ideas, even the 
celebrant's alb (beneath which no cassock is visible) reaching 
but little below the knee. 

It was not until the seventeenth century that pews 
became those monstrous and unsightly erections, from which 
the past half century has not entirely delivered us. The 
growth of the abomination is marked by some of the 
visitation enquiries of Wren, Bishop of Hereford, in 1 635 : 
" Are all the seats and pews," he asks, " so ordered, that they 
which are in them may kneel down in time of prayer, and 
have their faces up to the holy table ? '' And again, " Are 
there any privy closets or close pews in your church ? Are 
any pews so loftily made that they do any way hinder the 
prospect of the church or chancel, so that they which be in 
them are hidden from the face of the congregation ? " 

These questions, taken in connection with the date at 
which they were put, indicate the reasons for which the high 
pews were formed. The almost interminable sermons which 
began to be the fashion among clergy of Puritan leanings 
made something more restful than an open bench practically 
needful for the hearers ; and the spread of the same 
Puritanical opinions among the people helped to raise the 
backs and sides of these seats to an absurd height. For 
since it was part of the theory of Puritanism that liturgical 
offices were of little worth, and that bowing at the Holy 
Name, standing at the Gloria Patri^ and other similar 
marks of decent behaviour, were all papistical, and therefore 


to be abhorred ; it was convenient for such as did not care 
to incur the penalties of habitual absence from church, to be 
able at least to conceal their irreverence when there. This 
is illustrated by a letter from Dr. John Andrewes, rector of 
Beaconsfield in the days of Charles I., in which he describes 
the ill-behaviour of his parishioners ; and, among other 
offences charged against them, he says, " Many sitt at 
Divine Service with their Hatts on ; and some lye along in 
their Pewes, their heades covered, and even at the Letany 
and the Ten Com'^^ and yet Omnia bene. Many do not 
kneel at prayers ; nor bow at the Glorious Name of our 
Lord Jesus, nor stand up at the Creeds, nor at the Gloria 
Patri, and yet Omnia bene,^^ The sarcastic refrain of the 
rector is in allusion to the report of his churchwardens, who 
at visitations make oath that " all is well." 

This, together with the growth of the custom of allocating 
pews for the exclusive use of certain persons, led to the 
filling of our churches with the ugly and irregular erections, 
with which most of us were more or less familiar in our 
younger days. The effect of this upon the appearance of a 
church is indicated by White in his account of the church at 
Selborne. " Nothing," he says, " can be more irregular 
than the pews of this church, which are of all dimensions 
and heights, being patched up according to the fancy of the 
owners; but whoever nicely examines them will find that 
the middle aisle had on each side a regular row of benches 
of solid oak, with a low back-board to each ; these we should 
not hesitate to say are coeval with the present church (about 
the time of Henry VIL). . . . The fourth aisle also has 
a row of these benches ; but some are decayed through age, 
and the rest much disguised by modern alterations." 

THE NAVE. 109 

In process of time the evil grew to an almost ludicrous 
extent in some churches. The pew of a wealthy family 
was often allowed to occupy the space that would have 
sufficed for a dozen benches, and was furnished more like a 
parlour than a place of prayer. So early as the first half of 
the sixteenth century, Corbet, who became Bishop of 
Norwich in 1632, speaks of pews having " become tabernacles 
with rings and curtains, casements, locks and keys, and 
cushions"; and he sarcastically suggests that only pillows 
and bolsters are needed to complete the furnishing. One or 
two examples of the pew of this kind are still left. At 
Breedon-on-the-Hill, Leicester, is one belonging to the Earl 
of Ferrers; it is finely carved and surmounted by large 
escutcheons. Wensley Church, Yorkshire, has another, the 
property of the Lords of Bolton ; the screen in this case is 
said to have been plundered from the Scrope Chantry of 
Easby Abbey, near Richmond. 

Before leaving the question of pews, mention should be 
made of the "Hall dog pew," — the special compartment 
provided for the Squire's dogs during service-time. This, 
though not universally, was yet frequently, found ; at Aveley, 
in Essex, it was used down to the end of the eighteenth 
century, and at Northorpe, Lincolnshire, in the early years 
of the present one. There are many references in the 
writings of past days to the fact that favourite creatures, 
dogs and birds especially, were commonly taken to church 
by their masters. In Barclay's ** Shippe of Fooles " (pub- 
lished in 1509) occur these verses : — 

" Into the church there comes another sotte, 

Without devotion jetting up and downe, 

Or to be seene, and to shew his garded cote ; 


Another on his fiste a sparhawke or £awcone 
Or else a cokow, so wasting his shoon. 
Before the aultar he to and fro doth wander, 
With even so great devotion as a gander. 

One time the hawkes bells jangleth hye, 
Another time they flatter with their wings, 
And now the houndes barking strikes the skye, 
Nowe sounde their feete, and now the chaynes ringes, 
They clap with their handes ; by such manner of things 
They make of the church for their hawkes a mewe. 
And canell for their dog^es, which they shall after rewe." 

In "Historical Notices of the Reign of Charles I.," by 
Nehemiah Wallington, are two stories of thunder-storms, at 
times when the people were in church. In the one we are 
told that, at Widdecombe, Devonshire, on October 21st, 
1 638, " a dog near the chancel door was whirled up three 
times and fell down dead ; " and in the other, that at S. 
Anthony, Cornwall, on Whit Sunday, 1648, the lightning 
killed "one dog in the belfry and another at the feet of 
one kneeling to receive the cup " at the Eucharist. 

The whole question of the propriety and legality of 
allowing a section of the parishioners to acquire the 
possession of the seats of the church, which is the common 
property of all, has often been discussed in recent years; 
but happily the need for the discussion grows less year by 
year, as pews of the old type, and even benches allotted 
to specified persons become more rare. It would be somewhat 
beyond our province to devote any space here to such 
matters as legal faculties for pews, the churchwardens' 
authority in their allotment, and other kindred subjects. 

One evil, which is also passing away, but which for a 
long time marred or hid the architectural beauties of many 
a church, is due to the pew-system. When a few wealthy 


families occupied the greater part of the floor of the church 
with their wide enclosures, it became needful to find room 
elsewhere for folk of less importance ; and the gallery, with 
its hideous straight front, came into being. Western 
galleries sometimes existed before this time, and were 
used for the singers, or the minstrels; and in cruciform 
churches one of the transepts occasionally had a gallery. 
There is an ancient western one at Worsted, in Norfolk, 
and they are not uncommon on the Continent; and 
Winchester Cathedral and Hexham Abbey have examples 
in the transepts. The gallery was of old called sometimes 
a loft, and by Bishop Montague of Bath and Wells (1608- 
161 6) a scaflbld. A century or more ago, in their desire to 
increase the accommodation of their churches without 
interfering with the all too ample proportions of the family 
pews, the authorities reared galleries with a reckless dis- 
regard for the beauty, and sometimes even for the stability 
of the buildings. Arches were hidden, windows obscured 
or bricked up, columns called upon to bear additional, 
perhaps dangerous, weights ; and all that the congregation 
in the nave might loll at irreverent ease. Happily this is 
now a thing of the past ; with the re-introduction of open 
benches, the need for these abominations in most places 
has gone, and they are consequently rapidly disappearing. 

The separation of the congregation according to sex is a 
very ancient arrangement. A rule given in the " Apostolical 
Constitutions" runs, "Let the door-keepers stand at the 
gate of the men, and the deaconesses at the gate of the 
women." S. Cyril, S. Augustine of Hippo, and other early 
writers, refer to the practice. Socrates asserts that S. 
Helena, the mother of the Emperor Constantine, "always 


behaved submissively in this respect, praying in the women's 
part with the women." In S. Chrysostom's days, as appears 
from one of his homilies, a wooden partition divided the 
men from the women, although he admits that such was not 
a primitive custom. Eusebius alleges that the practice of 
dividing the sexes is as old as the time of S. Mark ; some 
consider it even an inheritance from Jewish usage. The 
women's side was commonly the north, the men's the south ; 
but in the East the women often sat in galleries above the 
men. In art the Blessed Virgin is always placed at the 
right hand of her Crucified Son, and S. John at His left ; 
thus the figure of the Mother on the rood-screen is on the 
north, that of the Apostle on the south. Whether this has 
had anything to do with the respective positions of men and 
women in church, it would be impossible to say, probably, 
with any certainty; but the coincidence is worth noting. 
The Prayer-book of 1549 has an allusion to this custom ; in 
the office for "The Supper of the Lord and Holy Com- 
munion, commonly called the Mass," is a rubric which 
orders that "so many as shall be partakers of the holy 
communion shall tarry still in the quire, or in some con- 
venient place nigh the quire, the men on the one side, and 
the women on the other side." This direction was observed 
at the cathedrals of Hereford and Durham, so far as the 
seating of any of the public within the choir was concerned, 
until comparatively recent times. The usage, as a standing 
rule of the place, has been revived in many churches.* 

The conduct of the congregations of the past would strike 
a modern worshipper as very strange in at least one particular. 

* Thirty years ago, and probably still, the sexes were always divided 
in the ** free seats" of Wesleyan Methodist chapels in Cornwall. 

THE NAVE. 113 

It was usual apparently at the end of the Middle Ages for 
men to keep their hats on their heads in church. In 1556 
Cardinal Pole had specially to order the " veiling of bonnets " 
at Hereford, even at the Incarnatus in the Nicene Creed ; 
and at the funeral of Bishop Cox in Ely Cathedral in 1581 
the people sat, " having their bonets on,*' during a sermon. 
A sermon preached by the Rev. James Rowlandson at 
Southampton, in 1620, alleges that this was a foreign habit : 
" How unmannerly," exclaimed the preacher, "are a many 
that carry themselves with more lowliness in a Gentleman's 
Hall (for there they will uncovfer) than in the House of God ! 
A French fashion, indeed, but very ill-favoured, though it be 
naturalized amongst the most, and grown English even in 
our greatest congregations, where the apprentice that stands 
bare-headed all the week long in his master's shop, must 
needs have his hat on in the church." Archbishop Laud did 
his utmost to abolish the irreverent custom, but it lingered 
on in places for fully half-a-century more. William III. had 
a habit of covering during the sermon, and sometimes even 
at the prayers ; but the usage had then so far died out, that 
the royal example, instead of leading to a revival of it, caused 
much offence. With the Puritans, and especially the early 
Quakers, this practice was elevated almost into a principle, 
as exhibiting to the full their contempt for all outward 
forms and ceremonies. 

Custom does not seem to have prescribed any laws for the 
dress of the congregation in England, as is the case in some 
parts of the Continent; as, for example, in Malta, where, 
howsoever gaily the ladies may array themselves at other 
times, a studiously grave atjire is assumed for church. In 
the Scilly Isles, however, it was usual at the beginning of 



this century for girls to wear white only on Christmas Day ; 
and it is a common superstition that one must wear some- 
thing new, it matters not what, on Easter Day. 

Although, as we have seen, the dogs from the Hall 
occasionally had a pew specially set apart for them, such 
was not the universal practice; and at any rate dogs of 
meaner ownership had to be excluded ; the services of the 
dog-whipper were therefore called into play. In the 
cathedrals of S. David's and Durham this was a recognized 
officer of the foundation, and we find traces of him else- 
where. A memorandum of 1585 refers to this official at 
Ecclesfield, where he was known as the Dog Noper. The 
churchwardens' accounts for Stamford-in-the-Vale, Oxford- 
shire, for 1567, have an entry: "To Olyu"^ for whipping 
dogges from ye churche xviiij^ " Similarly at Tavistock we 
road, ** For whyppyng dogs owt of the churche, iiij^" The 
accounts of East Halton, Lincolnshire, have an entry of the 
same kind. An endowment for a dog-whipper for Calverley, 
in Sliropshire, was made by deed in 1659; and the tenant 
of certain lands at Christel, Kent, pays (or as lately as 1842 
paid) Ion shillings a year to a man to keep order in church, 
his original duties being clearly shown by the fact that the 
land is slill called Dog Whipper's Marsh. In the vestry of 
Hiislow C^hurch, Derbyshire, the whip used by the local 
olVuxT, a short ash stick, with a stout lash three feet long, 
is prosorvod ; and at Clynnog Fawr and Llanynys, North 
Wales, are kept instruments once used to capture dogs in 
the church. They resemble long tongs, of iron, with short 
spikes within the extremities, wherewith to get a grip on the 
unlucky animals. Tr>*sull, Staffordshire, had a pound per 
annum bequeathed to it in 1725 by John Rudge to pay a 

THE NAVE. 115 

man to drive dogs out of church, and to go round during the 
sermon and wake up all sleepers. In a similar spirit the 
sum of five shillings per annum was left to the Collegiate 
Church of Wolverhampton by Richard Brooke, to secure 
the services of a man who should keep all the boys quiet 
during divine service. In the Isle of Man part of the 
Sumner's duty was to. stand at the chancel door " at the 
time of service, to whip and beat all the dogs." 

Almost the only links left us now between the corporate 
life of our towns and the church, which, by means of the 
ancient gilds, were once so closely knit together, are the 
official attendances of our civic authorities at church on 
important occasions. The mayor, escorted by a more or less 
full muster of the aldermen and councillors, is usually 
present on the Sunday morning after his formal installation ; 
and in the days before the reform of our municipal corpora- 
tions, thfe procession made a brave show. At Norwich the 
mayor went in state to the cathedral on S. George's Day, 
and on the Eve of S. John, on which occasions his retinue 
included, beside the members of the council in their gowns, 
the city waits, swordsmen, marshals, the city sword-bearer, 
the mace-bearer, and the standards, one of blue and gold, 
the other of crimson and gold : and before all went the 
"Norwich Snap," the famous dragon of the city pageant. 
The Lord Mayor of London anciently attended Evensong 
at S. Paul's on All Saints' Day, and at Christmas, Epiphany, 
and the Purification ; he still makes an official attendance 
there and at other important city churches at sundry times 
during his year of office ; as, for example, on S. Matthew's 
Day, when he is present at the Chapel of Christ's Hospital. 
The amount of state which their worships should assume on 


these occasions has more than once led to disagreements 
between them and the ecclesiastical authorities ; the point 
in dispute usually being the right to carry the civic sword 
through the church. This was the case more than once at 
Exeter, and also at Chichester ; at Bristol the mayor pat up 
a gallery for his own accommodation, which Bishop Thorn- 
borough (1603-1617) very properly had pulled down again; 
whereupon his worship took himself off in high dudgeon to 
S. Mary Redcliffe. The bailiffs, who, before the Municipal 
Reform Act of 1835, held sway in many places, had also 
their official attendances at the parish church ; at Wem, in 
Shropshire, the bailiffs and past-bailiffs went thither in 
procession at the great festivals, Christmas, Epiphany, 
Easter, and Whit Sunday. Her Majesty's Judges generally 
make a state "progress" to church also on the Assize 
Sunday, and in some places, notably in Diu'ham, this is 
accompanied with no little old-fashioned pomp. * 

As we have seen was the case with the churchyard, so ♦ 
also with the church, there was at one time considerable 
liberty taken as to conduct therein ; but a clear distinction 
seems to have been made in pre-Reformation days between 
the chancel and the nave. The former, usually guarded by 
its screen, was kept rigidly for its high and holy purposes ; 
the latter was at times the common place for the parishioners 
to meet in ; and the liberty thus allowed ran in many cases, 
according to the tendency of human nature, into license. 
Booths were at one time erected in Ely Cathedral, where 
S. Audrey's laces, made of thin silk, were sold.* Bamabe 

• From the gaudy, showy, character of these laces sold at S. Ethel- 
dreda's, or Audry's, fair wc derive the word tawdry. 





THE NAVE. 117 

Googe, in his ** Popish Kingdom/* speaks of a similar 
custom as being common on S. Ulrick's Day (July 4th) : 

*' Wheresoever Huldryche hath his place, the people there bring in 
Bothe carpes and pykes and mullets fat, his favour here to win ; 
Amid the church there sitteth one and to the aultar nie, 
That selleth fish and so good cheep that every man may bie." 

Nor was the abuse of the House of Prayer confined to its 
use as a place of merchandise. Aubrey, writing in 1686, 
says it was anciently the custom in Yorkshire, in the 
Christmas holidays, to dance in the church after prayers, 
crying or singing, " Yole, Vole, Yole." This looks like a 
relic of one of those sacred dances once employed in 
various places, of which very obvious relics yet survive in 
Spain, and in the Spanish- American countries of South 
America. In 1637 the parishioners of Clungunford, 
Shropshire, presented a petition to Archbishop Laud, 
complaining that the parson of the parish declined to allow 
them an Easter feast, which had become traditional among 
them. They set forth that the old and poor folk of their 
scattered parish had been used, for many ages, to be regaled 
with bread, cheese, and beer, after evensong on Easter Day, 
having first communicated at the celebration of the 
Eucharist that morning ; that for some fifty years, in 
accordance with the wish of the Archbishop of that day, the 
feast had taken place in the parsonage, but that previously 
it had been held in the church ; now, however, it was 
discontinued altogether. Laud's comment on the petition, 
still extant in his own writing, was as follows : ** I shall not 
go about to break this custom, so it be done in the 
parsonage house, in a neighbourly and decent way, but I 
cannot approve of the continuance of it in the church ; and 


if I hear it be so done again, I will not fail to call the 
offenders into the High Commissioners' Court. June 27th, 
1637. ^' Cant." The practice Was not confined to that 
one parish ; in the same county, in the parish of Berrington, 
a similar feast was held; a document, dated August 22nd, 
1639, and signed by Wright, Bishop of Lichfield, attesting 
that it had been so accustomed " tyme out of mynd," and 
that the " feast was even yet performed in the Church." In 
this case also Wright, like Laud, encouraged the continuance 
of the usage, but forbade its taking place on holy ground. 
Still worse than this was the presence, now and again, of 
actual profanity, as when women were found singing ribald 
songs in procession within the cathedrals, as Sir Thomas 
More complains. 

Naturally at the Reformation a good deal of this kind of 
indecency took place. The more extreme reformers, for 
whom the English Reformation was by no means suffi- 
ciently thorough, delighted in showing their contempt for 
all that others considered holy. Thus we find Hooper 
directing, at his visitation of the diocese of Gloucester in 
1552, "that you do move the people committed to your 
charge . . . not to talk or walk in the time of sermon, 
communion, or common prayers ; . . . that the church- 
wardens do not permit any buying, selling, gaming, 
outrageous noises, tumult, or any other idle occupying of 
youth, in the church, church porch, or churchyard, during 
the time of common prayer, sermon, or reading of the 

In partial explanation of these secular usages arising 
in earlier times, it should be pointed out that many of our 
churches, and even some of the cathedrals, were not 

THE NAVE. 119 

formally consecrated till long after their erection. In 1237, 
Cardinal Otho, acting as papal legate, found it needful to 
issue injunctions that all . such should be consecrated 
within two years, under pain of interdict. In later times we 
can find no excuse except the secularity of the people, and 
the carelessness of too many of the clergy. Thus a public 
thoroughfare was suffered in several of the cathedrals ; such 
was the case at Canterbury, Worcester, Durham, Norwich, 
Salisbury, and elsewhere, the market people freely carrying 
their wares to the Close, or to any place on that side of the 
church, through the cathedral and the cloisters. The most 
notorious of these cases was that of S. Paul's, "Paul's 
Walk " being for very many years a well-known public 
promenade. Complaints were made as early as the time of 
Edward III., and again under Richard III., of the resort of 
idlers to S. Paul's, and of the use of portions of the precincts 
by craftsmen and traders. Under Henry VI 1 1, and 
Edward VI. the state of things got so bad, as to call for the 
passing of an Act in the reign of Mary to mend matters. 
From the terms of the statute it appears that not only were 
"beer, bread, fish, flesh, fardels of stuff, etc.," carried 
constantly through the cathedral, but a common passage 
was even claimed for mules, horses, and cattle generally. 
And there was no interruption of this traffic even during 
divine service ; " yt is a greate disorder in the churche," 
says a presentment of the time of Elizabeth, under whom 
the old evils, if momentarily checked by this Act, had 
assumed full sway, "that porters, butchers, and water- 
bearers, and who not, be suffered (in special tyme of service) 
to carrye and recarrye whatsoever, no man withstandinge 
them or gainsaying them." 


In his play " Every Man out of his Humour," Ben 
. Jonson lays several scenes in S. Paul's, where a great variety of 
characters meet and walk and talk. Shakespeare also has 
an allusion to the practices here referred to ; he makes Sir 
John Falstaflf say of Bardolph, "I bought him in Paul's, 
and he'll buy me a horse in Smithfield." Servants were 
hired here, lawyers met their clients, and the young gallants 
lounged and chatted about the place. In the words of 
Corbet, Bishop of Norwich (163 2- 1635), i^ ^^^ — 

** The walke. 
Where all our Brittaine sinners sweare and talk." 

These most objectionable practices were revived to some 
extent in the new S. Paul's, as is evident from the fact 
that another Act was passed in the reign of William and 
Mary against such offences, inflicting a penalty of twenty 
pounds upon the disorderly frequenters of the Church. 

On one of the pillars of old S. Paul's was carved the foot of 
one Algar, a prebendary of the cathedral, and this served as 
a standard measure of land. A parallel to this may be 
quoted from Somersetshire. There was formerly kept in 
Puxton Church the chain by which certain common lands, 
called the East and West Dole Moors, were measured for 
allotment; this measure was four yards less than the 
regular land-measuring chain, and was annually tested on 
the Saturday after Midsummer Day, by stretching it from 
the foot of the chancel arch to the foot of the tower arch, 
at each of which places marks were cut for it. 

A curious story of the experience of a congregation at 
Wells Cathedral is told by Isaac Casaubon. **This day," 
he says, "the Lord Bishop of Ely (Dr. L. Andrewes), a 
prelate of great piety and holiness, related to me a wonderful 

THE NAVE. 121 

thing. He said he had received the account from many 
hands, but chiefly from the Lord Bishop of Wells lately 
dead (Dr. J. Still), who was succeeded by the Lord 
Montacute ; that in the city of Wells about fifteen years ago 
(1596), one summer's day, when the people were at divine 
service in the cathedral church, they heard, as it thundered, 
two or three claps above measure dreadful, so that the whole 
congregation, affected alike, threw themselves on their knees 
at this terrifying sound. It appeared the lightning fell at the 
same time, but without harm to any one ; so far, then, there 
was nothing but what was common in like cases. The 
wonderful part was this, which afterwards was taken notice 
of by many, that the marks of a cross were found to be 
imprinted on the bodies of those who were then at divine 
service in the cathedral." The bishop himself found the 
mark upon him, and others were signed "on the shoulder, 
the breast, the back, and other parts." "This account," 
Casaubon adds, " that great man, my lord of Ely, gave me 
in such a manner as forbade me even to doubt of its truth." 
Very different from the stories of frivolity and irreverence 
among the people, are those scenes witnessed within the 
naves of our churches when sinners have been put to 
open penance ; and the accounts of some of these are 
exceedingly curious. It was anciently a rule at Exeter that 
any Vicar-Choral who showed disrespect to the Dean should 
stand during the offices of the canonical hours, for one day 
and night, outside the choir in the nave, immediately before 
the rood; but even penance did not invariably imply 
repentance, as was proved when a young monk at Durham, 
Robert de Stichill by name, seized the stool on which he had 
been compelled to sit in the midst of the choir one Sunday, 


and hurled it into the nave among the congregation. We 
may hope, however, that the discipline, which, beyond 
question, followed this exhibition of temper, produced its 
proper effect, for in 1260 the same Robert became Bishop 
of Durham and Abbot of the monastery. 

The practice of divination in some of its many forms led 

very frec}uently to a public abjuration and penance. 

Amongst the notes in the private book of Dr. Swift, who was 

Vicar ( General and Ofificial Principal for the Diocese of 

Durham from 1561 to 1577, is one that refers to such a 

case ; "A confession to be made by AUice Swan, wife of 

Robert Swan, in S. Nicole's Church at Newcastle, for 

turning the ridle and shears with certen others, after the 

minister upon Sonday after the sermon." The special 

method of divination employed by Dame Allice with 

her sieve and shears (or scissors) was one similar to the 

more familiar way of discovering some person's name by 

means of a key and a Bible. There are frequent allusions 

to the exercise of this discipline in the ecclesiastical records 

of the Isle of Man. At Kirk Michael, in 1712, Alice 

Knakill, alias Moor, was sentenced to do penance on three 

Sundays in the churches of the neighbourhood for using 

charms. In 1 7 1 3 also Alice Cowley(the Alices appear to have 

been specially superstitious), who professed to h«ive 

infallible love philtres, charms for increasing the yieM of 

crops, and for other purposes, was sentenced to thirty days' 

imprisonment, subsequently to stand at the market cross of 

four market towns in Man, dressed in a white sheet, ar>d 

bearing a white wand, with the words, " For charming and 


sorcery " on her breast, and finally to do penance m 
Ballaugh Church. In the same church two men and two 

THE NAVE. 123 

women did penance in white sheets not more than seventy 
years ago ; and in Lezayre Church a similar penalty was 
exacted of a man in 1825. A severer punishment than 
merely exposing oneself to the contemptuous gaze of the 
congregation was sometimes inflicted; thus a law of 1655 
enacted that, " If any servant hire more than twice (at a 
statute hiring) he shall be whipped at the parish church on 
Sunday." This law was only repealed in 1876, though long 
fallen into desuetude. Bishop Wilson tells us the usual 
manner of doing public penance in Man during his time, 
which lasted from 1697 to 1755 : "The penitent," he says, 
" clothed in a sheet, etc., is brought into the church 
immediately before the Litany, and there continues until 
the sermon be ended ; after which, and a proper exhortation, 
the congregation are desired to pray for him in a form 
provided for that purpose." Should one who had done 
penance thus relapse, and be again found guilty of any 
offence requiring discipline, he was not admitted to it until 
he had shown some signs of amendment and contrition ; 
and meanwhile he was excluded from the church altogether, 
but had to stand at the door during the time of service. 

There is a curious entry in the Manx Exchequer Book of 
1659 dealing with a case that, though scarcely one of 
penance, was very similar. It seems that Mistress Jane 
Cesar was accused of witchcraft, was duly tried by a jury, 
and was "cleared and acquitted of the accusacon"; the 
document then goes on, " Nevertheless that the said Jane 
Cesar may declare her innocence of such practizes and that 
shee doth renounce the same as diabolicall and wicked, she is 
hereby ordered to acknowledge the same before the Con- 
gregacon off Kk. Malew Parish on the next Lord's day to the 


end that others may be admonished." This seems hard 
measure to mete out to Jane Cesar, after her acquittal by the 
jury. In 1638 we read of a very useful piece of discipline 
inflicted on slanderers : certain people having accused 
Jony Tear of witchcraft, and the charge having been refuted, 
the slanderers had to ask Jony's forgiveness "before the 

There are instances in England of the formal performance 
of penance within the present century. A gentleman in the 
early years of that period expiated a fault in this way at 
S. Mary's, Penzance, walking after the service from the 
church to his house in his white sheet. 

In spite of all the efforts made from time to time to 
prevent the use of charms or the practice of divination, both 
continued to be held in some sort of estimation by the 
ignorant, who in past days constituted a great majority of 
the people ; and the Church and its possessions were made 
to serve the purposes of the superstitious. Dust brought 
from the floor of the church to the bed of the dying was 
supposed to shorten and ease the pangs of a lingering death- 
struggle. At Lydford, in Devonshire, it was thought that a 
woman suffering from ** breastills," or sore breasts, might be 
cured by wearing a heart made of lead cut in small pieces 
from the church windows : a form of medicine to which 
churchwardens might reasonably object. A somewhat 
elaborate cure for epilepsy was once believed in in Cornwall, 
the method being as follows : the person afflicted must 
stand at the church door and collect from members of the 
congregation of the opposite sex thirty pennies ; these must 
then be changed for "sacrament money," that is for an 
equivalent in silver coins from those presented at the altar 

THE NAVE. 125 

during the Eucharist; and of this silver a ring must be 
made, the wearing of which will effectually cure fits. At 
S. Just-in-Penwith within the last twenty years some part of 
this charm was tried, the pence being collected and the ring 
bought, but the exchange for " sacrament money " was 
probably not effected. As dust, lead, stone, and other 
things taken from the church were supposed to carry a 
blessing with them, so also anything on which a curse had 
fallen was freed from it by being carried into the church. In 
Wales it was firmly held that if a spell or a curse had been 
laid upon a farm or a house, it could be broken by taking 
something belonging to it into the church. A charm of 
another kind comes from Devonshire ; pluck a rose on 
Midsummer Day and put it away, and never look at it 
until Christmas Day; if thus treated it will keep perfectly 
fresh, and if worn to church on that day the future partner 
of your life will come and take the rose. 

Somewhat akin to these fancies is much of the quaint 
weather lore, in which our ancestors had full confidence. 
Among other items of this kind it was thought very ominous 
for rain to fall before the morning service on Sunday. We 
find proverbs to that effect in very distant parts of the 
country. In Norfolk it is said, 

" Rain afore chu'ch, 
Rain all the week 
Little or much ;" 

while in Fife we find 

" If it rains on the Sunday before mess (mass) 
It will rain all the week more or less." 

The naves of our churches were anciently adorned with 
permanent decorations far more frequently than is now the 


case ; paintings and statues at once serving to remove the 
bareness of the walls, aud to instruct the worshippers. Over 
the chancel arch was usually a doom, or emblematic painting 
of the Last Judgment, of which traces still remain in several 
English churches. At Lutterworth, in the chapel of the 
Holy Cross at Stratford-on-Avon, at Blyth in Northampton- 
shire, and at South Leigh, dooms, more or less damaged by 
time and whitewash, still exist; and there is a singularly 
interesting one at Wenhaston, in Suffolk. Other paintings 
often covered the walls, and made them as full of teaching 
as we have at last agreed that our windows may be. Statues 
also stood in their niches against the pillars, or beside the 
lesser altars. The patron saint of England, S. George, was 
represented in many churches in a splendid fashion; an 
equestrian figure richly decorated being erected in his 
honour. The Puritan, Hollingworth, writing of Manchester 
in 1656, says, "In the chappell where morning sermons 
were wont to be preached, called St. George his Chappell, 
was the statua of St. George on horseback hanged up. His 
horse was lately in the sadler's shop. The statues of the 
Virgin Mary and St. Dyonise the patron saints were upon the 
highest pillars next to the quire. Unto them men did 
usually bow at their coming in the Church." Reading had 
a famous statue of S. George, which was lavishly decorated. 
The Reformers had a most illogical dislike to painting and 
sculpture ; admitting, as Hooper does in his " Declaration 
of Christ and His Office," that " the art of graving and 
painting is the gift of God," they, nevertheless, would 
altogether exclude its existence from the House of God. 
Even painted windows were to be destroyed, and " if they 
will have anything painted," writes Hooper again, to the 

THE NAVE. 127 

clergy of Gloucester, " let it be either branches, flowers, or 
posies (mottoes) taken out of holy scripture " ; he goes on 
to order the defacement of all ** images painted upon any of 
the walls." Thenceforth, therefore, the only decoration to be 
suffered was branches of unmeaning foliage, or texts 
unreadable by the larger part of a country congregation at 
that time. Happily these narrow views had no authority 
beyond that of the individuals who expressed them, although 
the eighty-ninth canon of 1604 desires that "chosen 
sentences be written upon the walls of the churches and 
chapels in places convenient " ; but the destruction which 
was commenced under such leadership was carried out with 
ruthless logic to its natural conclusions by the Puritans of 
the following century. Something has been done in recent 
years to repair the loss of the past centuries, but much yet 
remains to be done before the interiors of our churches will 
bear comparison with the artistic decoration that we at any 
rate aim at in our homes. 

There was an interesting case, involving the question of 
the legality of pictures in churches, decided by the Court of 
Arches in 1684. It was proposed to put up at the east end 
of Moulton Church, Lincolnshire, paintings of the apostles, 
the dedication of the church being in the name of All 
Saints ; and a faculty was applied for from the Chancellor of 
the diocese. The Surrogate of that official granted the 
faculty asked ; the Chancellor himself revoked it, and the 
bishop, Dr. Thomas Barlow (" a thorough-paced Calvinist," 
according to Wood) refused his assent. An appeal was 
consequently taken to the Court of i\rches, the leading 
opponent of the pictures being one Tallent, a clergyman 
living in the parish. The case was heard by the Dean, 


Sir Richard Lloyd, and the following is an extract from his 
judgment. " By the opinion and judgment of all orthodox 
divines the painting of the effigies of the hiest apostles in 
any church or chapel is not idolatrous or superstitious, but 
do serve only for ornament and to put people in remembrance 
of the holy lives and conversations of those they represent, 
. , And, therefore, since there is no apparent danger 
of superstition, the effigies of the holy apostles in the parish 
church of Moulton aforesaid may and ought lo continue as 
they are now painted ; otherwise it may be of dangerous 
consequence, since that under such pretended fears of 
superstition and idolatry most of the churches, chapels, 
colleges, and other pious and religious places in England 
may be in danger of being pulled down and demolished, 
and so in all probability the hatred of idolatry would usher 
licentious sacrilege." The faculty was accordingly granted, 
and the opponents of it condemned in costs. 

Not many of our churches have paintings by well-known 
artists, though there are exceptions. The celebrated 
picture of Christ as the " Light of the World," by Holman 
Hunt, is now in Kebie College chapel ; and in the parish 
church of Chinnor, Oxfordshire, are effigies of the eleven 
faithful Apostles, the four Evangelists, and of our Blessed 
Lord, said to be the work of Sir James Thornhili. The 
same artist executed paintings within the dome at S. Paul's, 
which have now been replaced by the more effective 
mosaics. Other cases might be quoted, but we are far 
behind the Continent in this respect, where the masterpieces 
of the greatest artists have been placed for the most part in 
the churches, and not in mere piciure galleries, public or 

THE NAVE. 129 

One symbol only found full favour with the civil powers 
in the days of Henry VIII. as an ornament to the nave of 
the church, and that was the royal arms ! By what 
authority this incongruous addition to the furniture of a 
House of Prayer was first set up is not evident, but it was 
introduced during the primacy of Thomas Cranmer. In 
September, 1555, the then deposed Archbishop was examined 
at Oxford, when Martin, proctor for the Crown, thus ad- 
dressed him : " If you mark the devil's language well, it 
agreed with your proceedings most truly. For ^ Mitte te 
deorsuMy * Cast thyself downward,' said he ; and so taught 
you to cast all things downward. Down with the sacrament ! 
Down with the mass ! Down with the altars ! Down with 
the arms of Christ, and up with a lion and a dog !" By the 
arms of Christ the rood is meant, and by the lion and the 
dog the royal arms, Henry VIII. having employed, amongst 
other supporters to the royal shield occasionally assumed, 
a golden lion and a white greyhound. The place usually 
occupied by these arms was immediately over the chancel 
arch, just above where the rood had formerly stood upon 
the screen ; the contrast insisted upon by Dr. Martin was 
therefore the more striking. Very few of these Erastian 
emblems are to be seen now in the churches themselves ; 
but preserved, more or less as curiosities, many of them still 
exist in belfries or vestries. They were usually repainted 
froni time to time ; and any alteration in the arms was then 
introduced, so that there are very few really ancient examples 
left. The later arms of George III. — those used after 1801, 
when the French fleurs de lys were dropped — are perhaps 
those most frequently seen. There are, however, older 
ones ; at Acaster Malbis is the shield of James II., dated 



1683, now in the vestry ; and doubtless there are others as 
old, or older. Marr, near Doncaster, has, or recently had, 
the shield still over the chancel arch, as also had Castleford. 
The more temporary adornment of churches with flowers 
and foliage has a very high antiquity. Paulinus, Bishop of 
Nola, describing the preparation for keeping a festival, 
exclaims : 

Spargite flore solum, praetexite limina sertis ;" 

Strew ye the floor with flowers, with boughs the threshold weave." 

S. Jerome tells us that his friend Nepotian " made flowers 
of various kinds, the leaves of trees, and the branches of the 
vine contribute to the beauty and decoration of the Church ;" 
and he adds words which well express the principle on 
which such things and others, which a sour Puritanism is 
wont to sneer at, are admirable. " These things," he says, 
" are in themselves but trifling ; but a pious mind, devoted 
to Christ, is careful of small things, as well as great, and 
leaves undone nothing that belongs even to the lowliest 
office in the Church." 

Stowe's "Survey of London" (1598) gives evidence of 
the English custom, when it tells us " that against the feast 
of Christmas every man's house, as also their parish churches, 
were decked with holme, ivy, bayes, and whatsoever the 
season of the year afforded to be green." Barnabe Googe, also, 
in his " Papistical Kingdom " (translated from Naogeorgus), 
says concerning a dedication festival : — 

** From out the steeple high is hangde a cross and banner fayre, 
The pavement of the temple strowde with hearbes of pleasant ayre, 
The pulpets and the aulters, all that in the church are seene, 
And every pewe and pillar grete are deckt with boughes of greene." 

Several of these extracts allude to the scattering of flowers 

THE NAVE. 131 

on the floor as one part of the preparation of a church for 
a festival. We are still familiar with the usage as a sign of 
joy, from seeing it done occasionally at a wedding, but its 
use at Church festivals has quite lapsed, though the writer 
has seen it in at least one church, avowedly as a revival of a 
pretty mediseval custom. 

Christmas time has long been the great occasion of 
decoration in English churches, and the usage of holly, ivy, 
and box at that season has lasted in an unbroken tradition 
through all the days of carelessness and neglect. Of all the 
foliage available at that cold time, mistletoe alone seems by 
universal agreement to be excluded from the church. It 
was the sacred plant of the Druids, which may have made 
the Church cautious of using it ; but it was also the plant 
which supplied the fatal shaft which slew Baldr the Beauti- 
ful, and it may therefore mean that our Saxon forefathers 
so far clung to their ancestral myths, that they would not 
use the death-symbol of Baldr at the birth of the White 
Christ. The secular frivolities connected with the mistletoe 
have no doubt had something to do with keeping it out of 
Church in more recent times. It is said that there is only 
one instance of mistletoe being introduced in the carving of 
an English church, and that is on a tomb in Bristol 

The Christmas decorations must be taken down before 
Candlemas Day, and if but a single leaf or berry be left in a 
pew, some one of those who usually occupy that seat will 
die before another Yuletide ; such at least is the belief of 
many, and people have been known to send their own 
servants to the church to sweep out their pews most 
carefully on Candlemas Eve. 


Easter is now becoming almost as generally marked by its 
decorations as Christmas, and no season provides flowers 
more effective for the purpose than a fine spring. Whitsun- 
tide has scarcely yet been accorded equal honours, yet it 
was specially regarded by our forefathers. It used to be 
customary to deck the churches in Shropshire with boughs 
of birch at the feast of Pentecost ; and the same method of 
garnishing was in vogue in Staffordshire, if we may judge by 
some items in the Bilston accounts. In 1691 we read, 
"For dressing ye chapel with birch, 6d. ;" in 1697, "For 
birch to dress ye chapel at Whitsuntide, 6d. ; " and again in 
1702, "For dressing ye chapel, and to Ann Knowles for 
birch and a rose, lod." The same tree is a favourite for 
Whitsuntide decoration in Germany. 

The festival of S. Barnabas the Apostle (June i ith) was 
of old observed with special devotion in England, perhaps 
owing to its proximity to Midsummer Day. The churches 
were dressed for the anniversary with roses, lavender, and 

A singular custom existed at Ripon on Christmas Day at 
one time ; the boys of the choir came to church provided 
with baskets full of rosy apples, in each of which was stuck 
a sprig of rosemary or box. These were carried round and 
offered to the members of the congregation, who were 
expected to give some little gratuity, varying usually from 
twopence to sixpence, in return. 

Before leaving our consideration of the nave, with its uses 
and abuses, its disfigurements and decorations, one curious 
form of adornment that has been accidentally introduced into 
several churches should be mentioned, and that is, the exis- 
tence of trees, growing and flourishing, within the building. 

THE NAVE. 133 

At Ross Church, in the pew rendered memorable by its 
regular use by John Kyrle, Pope's "Man of Ross," two 
trees may be seen growing. There are other examples, 
which, though not standing in the naves of churches, it will 
be convenient to mention here. A chestnut-tree grows 
from the tomb of Sir Edmund Wylde, in the chancel of 
Kempsey Church, near Worcester. Some years ago, a lad 
sitting in the chancel was discovered eating chestnuts, and 
one in his hand was snatched from him and flung behind 
this tomb ; there it has taken root and grown, in spite of 
efforts to dislodge it Outside at least two churches trees 
have sprung out of the walls; at Castle Morton, near 
Tewkesbury, is one growing from the side of the spire, and 
at Whaplode, in Lincolnshire, is a birch-tree on the tower. 


t^ piffit anb t^ Eectem. 

TWO of the most conspicuous pieces of furniture in the 
naves of our churches are the pulpit and the lectern, 
yet neither of them is really ancient. They are develop- 
ments upon different lines of the amdo, the elevated platform 
with a double flight of steps, from which the Epistle and 
Gospel were declaimed in the early Church, the acts and 
martyrdoms of the saints were read, and sermons were 
sometimes delivered. Placed at the entrance of the choir 
or chancel, this grew into the loft or gallery which sur- 
mounted the mediaeval rood-screen, on which were often 
placed desks for the book of the Gospels ; and this gallery 
was anciently called the pulpitum. When the custom arose 
of reading the lections at the offering of the Eucharist within 
the chancel near the altar itself, desks were provided there 
for the books, and these lecterns are also known in France 
as pulpitres. 

In mediaeval England, a pulpit was by no means univer- 
sally found as part of the furniture of a church, sermons 
often being delivered, especially in country churches (where 
the celebrant at mass must frequently have been the preacher 
also) from the altar ; and where they existed, they were 
usually light movable structures, which could be brought 
out when needed, and pushed into some corner out of the 
way at other times. It is therefore not surprising that very 


few really ancient examples have survived. At Norwich 
Cathedral the pulpit was on wheels, and was run into a side 
chapel when not required for use ; and a similar custom 
existed at Christ Church, and at S. Patrick's, and Kilkenny, 
in Ireland. Hereford still preserves its old movable pulpit ; 
and others may be seen at Great S. Mary's, Cambridge, and 
at Christ Church, Streatham. 

The honour of possessing the oldest wooden pulpit in 
England is claimed by Fulbourne, near Cambridge, the 
example there dating from 1350 ; at Lutterworth is one 
probably almost as old, from which, it is alleged, that 
Wiclif preached during his incumbency (137 5 -1384). From 
the Jacobean period we have received many fine old 
pulpits, several of them dignified with imposing canopies 
and sounding-boards. S. John's Church, Leeds, has a very 
handsome one, as also has S. Michael's, at S. Albans. The 
latter still retains the stand for an hour-glass, which in the 
seventeenth century, the era/«r excellence of lengthy sermons, 
became a necessary addition to its furniture. S. Alban's, 
Wood Street, London, has preserved not only the stand, but 
the hour-glass itself. A bracket for this purpose may yet be 
seen in several other churches, either on the pulpit, or on a 
pillar or a wall near. There were advantages in placing the 
hour-glass beyond the preacher's reach, for occasionally, in 
the days of Puritan ascendancy, the vigour of the orator, if 
not the attention of the hearers, seems to have been almost 
inexhaustible ; and there is a story of a preacher who, having 
seen the last sands of his monitor run out while yet his 
discourse was in full flood, quietly turned it, with the remark 
that there was "yet time to have another glass together," 
and so started on another hour. 


Of all Strange pieces of ecclesiastical furniture, surely the 
" three-decker" was one of the oddest. This preacher's castle 
was usually erected in the midst of the church, blocking out 
chancel and altar from view, and dwarfing everything else 
in the building. Below was the desk wherein sat the parish 
clerk, droning responses to the priest, and acting proxy for 
the whole congregation. Above this rose the desk of the 
parson, where in voluminous surplice and flowing bands, he 
read the prayers. On the " upper deck " was the pulpit, to 
which the preacher ascended, after first arraying himself 
in his black gown. One smiles to think of the smug 
satisfaction of that genius who first evolved this precious 
arrangement from his inner consciousness ; how compact 
the whole structure appeared to him, how eminently con- 
venient ! And how successfully, we might add, it strove to 
make the House of Prayer appear to be nothing but a 
House of Preaching ! Happily this abomination has become 
a tradition, and scarcely more ; probably in some obscure 
corners of the country an example or two may still be found; 
but such as survive are now curiosities indeed. 

Pulpits are never mentioned in old inventories of Church 
furniture and property, for the reasons already given; in 
those of the last century and the early years of this, their 
condition, and that of their cushions and the number of the 
tassels thereon, seem to have been objects of great solicitude 
to archdeacons and other ecclesiastical authorities. Pulpits 
were first ordered to be universally provided in the in- 
junctions of 1547, but they were specially intended then for 
the reading of the lections at the Eucharist. " In the time 
of High Mass," writes Cranmer, " he that saith or singeth 
the same shall read, or cause to be read, the epistle and 


gospel of that Mass in English, and not in Latin, in the 

pulpit, or in such convenient place as the people may hear 

the same." In . that same year the churchwardens of S. 

Margaret's, Westminster, paid the sum of 2s. " for making of 

the stone in the body of the church for the priest to declare 

the pistills and gospells." This was, perhaps, a temporary 

arrangement, for in 1553, they spent 15s. in providing "a 

pulpit, where the curate and the clarke did read the 

chapters at service time." The first law which definitely 

assigns the pulpit as the place for the sermon, is the 

eighty-third canon (1603), which runs as follows: "The 

Churchwardens or Questmen, at the common charge of the 

Parishioners in every Church, shall provide a comely and 

decent Pulpit, to be set in a convenient place within the 

same, by the discretion of the Ordinary of the place, if any 

question do arise, and to be there seemly kept for the 

preaching of God's word." 

Much more care was taken to have the people properly 
instructed in the faith in the mediaeval Church than is 
sometimes supposed. Two of the Excerptions of Egbert, 
Archbishop of York, issued in 750, are to the effect that 
"on all festivals, and on the Lord's Day, the priest shall 
preach the gospel unto the people ; " and that " every priest 
shall, with the greatest diligence, instruct the people 
committed to his charge in the Lord's Prayer, the Creed, 
and the whole of religion." In the reign of Ethelred, and 
about the year 994, were promulged Theodulph's Capitula^ 
one of which runs thus : " We exhort every priest to be 
prepared to teach the people by preaching to them the 
scriptures, but let him that is ignorant of them at least say 
this, * That they should abstain from that which is evil, and 


do that which is good,' and so forth : no priest can excuse 
himself from teaching, for every one of you has a tongue by 
which he may reclaim some." About three centuries later, 
namely in 1281, Archbishop Peckham issued at Lambeth 
certain constitutions, which give very explicit instructions 
on the question of preaching. "We decree," he says, 
"that every priest who presides over the people shall four 
times a year publicly expound to the people in the vulgar 
tongue, without fantastical subtlety, the fourteen articles of 
the faith, the ten commandments of the decalogue, the two 
precepts of the gospel, the seven works of mercy, the seven 
deadly sins, the seven principal virtues, and the seven 
sacraments of grace." This, as a scheme of instruction to 
be used fully every quarter, must, every one will admit, 
have been amply sufficient to supply sermons for all the 
thirteen Sundays. Again in a constitution issued for the 
diocese of Sodor in 1350, it is ordered that "all rectors, 
vicars, and chaplains, shall on every Sunday and festival, 
carefully expound to their parishioners the word of God, the 
Catholic faith, and the Apostles' Creed, in the vulgar 
tongue." To quote one more instance only, Arundel, 
Archbishop of Canterbury, in 1408 gives fresh authority to 
the injunctions of his predecessor Peckham, and orders all 
priests to counteract the teaching of the Lollards by keeping 
to the course of instruction laid down by him. 

The practice of writing one's sermons and reading them 
from the manuscript arose towards the end of Henry VIIL's 
reign. It was a troublous time, in which a man was 
exceedingly liable to "be made an offender for a word ; " 
some, therefore, preached as little as possible, and others 
wrote out what they wished to say, so as to ensure the 


weighing of every expression used. It was to meet such 
cases, as well as to supply the needs of those who thought 
themselves unable to preach, that the homilies were 
written and authorised. The first book, published under 
Edward VI., contained a dozen discourses written chiefly 
by Cranmer, Ridley, and Latimer; the second book 
followed in the reign of Elizabeth ; it consists of twenty-one 
homilies, most of which were composed by Jewel. Accor- 
ding to the canons of 1603, every resident parish priest, 
"allowed to be a preacher," must preach "one sermon 
every Sunday of the year ; " which strictly ought to be at a 
celebration of the Eucharist, since at that service only does 
the Prayer-book provide for any sermon. Should the 
" beneficed man," however, not be in the happy position of 
being ** allowed to be a preacher," he must procure some 
one, who is so, to address his people at least once a month, 
and on other Sundays he must read a homily. 

The publication of homilies for the use of the less learned 
clergy was far from being a new expedient. Theodulph's 
Capitula assumed, as in the extract already given, that some 
priests were unable to preach, and indeed it was but natural 
that many even of the clergy should have but little education 
at that date. The bishops therefore composed sermons, or 
homilies, in the English (or Anglo-Saxon) tongue to assist 
such priests as had need of them. 

The mediaeval preachers were extremely fond of allegory, 
every passage being spiritualized with a fancifulness which 
would be irritating to a modern congregation. We have 
what is practically a sermon after the manner of the times in 
Chaucer's "Canterbury Tales," under the name of "The 
Parson's Tale." The love of parable and allegory shows 


itself also in several of the more famous preachers of the 
Reformation period, especially in Latimer, whose " Sermons 
on the Card," preached at Cambridge in 1529, and " Sermon 
of the Plough,*' which was preached " in the shrouds at 
Paul's Church in London," in 1548, are full of quaint 
conceits of this kind. 

In a sermon preached before King Edward VL in April, 
1549, Latimer deals largely with the question of preaching, 
which, of course,* after the manner of the Reformers, he 
greatly extolls. An extract will not be out of place here. 
Having referred to our Saviour's sitting in a boat to teach 
the people, he goes on : "I would our preachers would 
preach sitting or standing, one way or other. It was a 
goodly pulpit that our Saviour Christ had gotten Him here, 
an old rotten boat, and yet he preached His Father's will, 
His Father's message, out of this pulpit. He cared not for 
the pulpit, so he might do the people good. . . . And 
though it be good to have the pulpit set up in churches, that 
the people may resort thither, yet I would not have it so 
superstitiously used, but that in a profane place the word of 
God might be preached sometimes ; and I would not have 
the people offended withal, no more than they be with our 
Saviour Christ's preaching out of a boat. And yet to have 
pulpits in churches, it is very well done to have them, but 
they would be occupied ; for it is a vain thing to have them as 
they stand in many churches. I heard of a bishop of England 
that went on visitation, and as it was the custom, when the 
bishop should come, and be rung into the town, the great bell's 
clapper was fallen down, the tyall was broken, so that the 
bishop could not be rung into the town. There was a 
great matter made of this, and the chief of the parish were 


much blamed for it in the visitation. The bishop was 
somewhat quick with them, and signified that he was much 
offended. They made their answers and excused themselves 
as well as they could. * It was a chance,' said they, * that 
the clapper brake, and we could not get it mended by and 
by; we must tarry till we can have it done; it shall be 
amended as shortly as may be.' Among the other, there 
was one wiser than the rest, and he comes me to the 
bishop : * Why, my lord,' saith he, * doth your lordship make 
so great a matter of the bell that lacketh his clapper ? Here 
is a bell,' said he, and pointed to the pulpit, *that hath 
lacked a clapper this twenty years. We have a parson that 
fetcheth out of this benefice fifty pound every year, but we 
never see him.' I warrant you that the bishop was an 
unpreaching prelate. He could find fault with the bell that 
wanted a clapper to ring him into the town, but he could 
not find any fault with the parson that preached not at his 

Master Latimer had reason himself to find fault at times 
that his coming into a parish was not sufficiently regarded 
by the people. In the sermon just quoted he relates how 
once, when travelling, he sent word to the next town that he 
would preach there on the following morning as it was a 
holiday (May Day); but on arriving, expecting "a great 
company in the church," he found the door locked and no 
congregation. " One of the parish comes to me," he goes 
on, "and says, *Sir, this is a busy day with us, we cannot 
hear you; it is Robin Hood's day: the parish are gone 
abroad to gather for Robin Hood ; I pray you let them not.' 
I was fain there to give place to Robin Hood ; I thought 
my rochet should have been regarded, though I were not ; 


but it would not serve, it was fain to give place to Robin 
Hood's men/' It almost seems as though the preacher did 
not command as much sympathy in his disappointment, 
from the congregation to whom he related it, as he deemed 
his due ; for he exclaims, " It is no laughing matter, my 
friends, it is a weeping matter ! " 

Preachers have sometimes employed artifice to make 
their sermons more telling, as in the case of the unlucky 
Dr. Shaw, who, preaching in S. Paul's one day in 1483, 
prepared a sentence beginning, " Behold this excellent 
Prince !" which was to be uttered just as Richard, Duke of 
Gloucester, entered. The Duke, however, came a little too 
late, and the catch phrase, by its repetition, made the art of 
the speech a little too obvious. Preaching in the same 
cathedral, Aylmer, Bishop of London from 1577 to 1595, 
startled a congregation, whose attention his eloquence had 
not succeeded in rivetting, by suddenly producing from 
beneath his gown a skull, and holding it up before their 
eyes. The stories of aptly chosen texts are endless, and 
would form no small volume by themselves. One only 
shall be given here, and that more jjarticularly to correct a 
commonly related version of it There is a well-known 
anecdote of a worthy preacher who delivered a sermon 
before King James the First of England and Sixth of 
Scotland, from a text which was thus announced, "James 
first and sixth, * A double-minded man is unstable in all his 
ways.'" It is a pity to spoil a good story, but the verse 
quoted is not the sixth of the first chapter of S. James's 
Epistle, but the eighth. The real text of the sermon, 
provided that that reference was really given, was perhaps as 
appropriate, but not so concise ; namely, ** He that wavereth 


is like a wave of the sea, driven with the wind and 

There have been several sums of money left specially to 
endow the preaching of a sermon, or a course of sermons, 
under given circumstances. The best known is that which 
gave a foundation to the Bampton Lectures. By the will of 
the Rev. John Bampton, Canon of Salisbury, it was ordered 
that the authorities of the University of Oxford should, as 
trustees of his estates, appoint yearly a Master of Arts of 
Oxford or Cambridge to deliver a course of eight divinity 
lectures or sermons, at S. Mary's, Oxford, the character of 
the subjects being specified in the will. The first was given 
in 1780. Another course is known as the Boyle Lectures, 
from having been founded by Robert Boyle, a president of 
the Royal Society, who died in 169 1. By his will he 
established a series of eight lectures in defence of the 
Christian faith ; the first of which was delivered by Richard 
Bentley in 1692 ; they are now preached at S. Mary-le-Bow, 
in Cheapside. The Rev. John Hulse, of Elworth, by a will 
dated 1777, ^^^ ^ sum for the foundation of a series of 
lectures at Cambridge, which are hence called Hulsean ; 
originally they were twenty in number, but they have been 
reduced to eight The Donnellan Lectures were established 
in 1 794 by a fund bequeathed to Trinity College, Dublin, 
by Mrs. Anne Donnellan, and consist of a course of six. 
Bishop Warburton also founded an annual lecture, known 
from that fact as the Warburtonian, in defence of the 
Christian Faith, especially with regard to the fulfilment of 
the prophecies of Scripture. The Moyer Lectures no longer 
exist These were eight sermons preached annually in S. 
Paul's, the subjects being the Holy Trinity and the Divinity 


of Christ, for which Lady Moyer, widow of Sir Samuel 
Moyer, Bart, (who died in 1716), bequeathed the sum of 
;^2o per annum. The last Moyer lecturer was Dr. Thomas 
Morell, in 1773. 

There are other similar instances which, if not so 
celebrated, have a 'more interesting history. One of these is 
the Lion Sermon at S. Katherine Cree. Within the altar 
rails of this church is a bust of Sir John Gayer, with these 
two passages of Scripture on either side, " The eyes of the 
Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto 
their prayers," and "The effectual fervent prayer of a 
righteous man availeth much ; " while underneath is a brass, 
erected in 1888 by descendants of the knight, with a long 
inscription which begins as follows : — 

" In Memory of 

Sir John Gayer, Knt., 

Founder of the * Lion Seimon,* who was descended from 

the Old West Country Family of Gayer, 

and was born at Plymouth, 

and became Sheriff of this City of London in 1635 

and Lord Mayor of London in 1647." 

A subsequent paragraph informs us that ** He resided 
in this parish, and * Dyed in peace in his owne house * 
on the 20th of July, 1649." Sir John was a man of 
remarkable enterprise for his time, and travelled far in 
furtherance of his business as a " Turkey Merchant.*' On 
one occasion, while journeying through Arabia with a 
caravan of traders, he got towards nightfall separated from 
his company, and found himself compelled to spend the 
hours of darkness alone in the desert. Falling on his knees, 
he made a solemn vow that all the profits of his expedition 
should be given to God and the poor, if the hand of Divine 


Providence should bring him back in safety to his home. 
While he was praying a lion of magnificent size, with 
bristling mane, and eyes aglow, approached him ; its hot 
breath passed over him, as the creature sniffed at him, and 
he saw its great form, dusky in the dim light, prowling 
around and again around him ; then, without harming 
a hair of his head, the monarch of the desert stalked off 
into the darkness. Sir John spent the remainder of the 
night upon his knees ; and in the morning succeeded in 
rejoining his companions, and in due time returned home. 
In fulfilment of his vow he gave large benefactions to the 
poor of his own parish during the rest of his life-time ; and 
at his death left ;£^2oo for their relief, on condition that " a 
sermon should be occasionally preached in the church 
to commemorate his deliverance from the jaws of the lion." 

The Fairchild sermon is preached at S. Leonard's, 
Shoreditch, at Whitsuntide. It was instituted in accordance 
with a bequest of Mr. Thomas Fairchild, a gardener of 
Hoxton, who died in 1729, and left by will a sum of money 
for an annual sermon on ** The wonderful works of God in 
the Creation," or on '* The certainty of the resurrection 
of the dead proved by the certain changes of the animal 
and vegetable parts of the creation." A Mrs. Hawkins, who 
died in 1780, and was buried in S. Helen's, Abingdon, 
bequeathed a considerable sum to local charities (together 
with ;£^40o for a rather vulgarly showy monument to her- 
self), and a further amount for four sermons to be preached 
yearly on certain specified days, one being the anniversary 
of her own death. 

The Skinners' Company gives the sum of two guineas 
yearly to the preacher of a special sermon in one of the city 



churches, which the company attends in state on the feast of 
Corpus Christi, the Thursday after Trinity Sunday. This is 
interesting especially as a survival of the time when that day 
was commonly observed as the annual commemoration of 
most of our ancient gilds and confraternities. The brethren 
first attended mass, and then had their business meeting ; 
the rest of the day being spent in festivity. The election of 
the governors of this company still takes place on this day ; 
and the nosegays worn or carried by the members are 
a relic of the flowers once strewn along the route of the 
Corpus Christi procession. 

In addition to the appointed public sermon at the 
Eucharist, and the " lectures " which have now become 
universal at evensong, and, when the Eucharist is not 
celebrated, at matins also, sermons were formerly delivered 
at weddings, funerals, and on other occasions of solemnity. 
In the first Prayer-book of Edward VI. (1549) the following 
rubric occurs in the course of the nuptial mass : " Then 
shall be said after the gospel a sermon, wherein ordinarily 
(so oft as there is any marriage) the office of man and wife 
shall be declared according to holy scripture. Or if there 
be no sermon, the minister shall read this that followeth : " 
the address following being practically the same as that now 
found in the office for holy matrimony. Each successive 
edition of the Prayer-book has repeated this direction with 
only verbal alteration. As a sample of the kind of sermon 
sometimes delivered on these occasions, the following quaint 
extract from one given by Dr. Hacket in 1607 will prove of 
interest, especially as it offers also an explanation of an old 
wedding custom. " Ros marinus, the rosemary," says the 
doctor, " is for married men ; the which, by name, nature, 


and continued use, man challengeth as properly belonging 
to himself. It overtoppeth all the flowers in the garden, 
boasting man's rule. It helpeth the braine, strengtheneth 
the memorie, and is very medicinable for the head. 
Another property of the rosemary is, it affects the heart. 
Let the ros marinus, this flower of men, ensigne of your 
wisdom, love, and loyaltie, be carried not only in your 
hands, but in your heads and hearts." 

The question of funeral sermons caused some controversy 
among the more extreme Reformers in the sixteenth century ; 
not that they had any objection to sermons in themselves at 
any time, for indeed that might be said of them which 
Hooker says of the people of his day, " They (the primitive 
Christians) in the practice of their religion wearied chiefly 
their knees and hands, we especially our ears and tongues ; 
we are grown ... in this to a kind of intemperancy 
which (only sermons excepted) hath almost brought all 
other duties of religion out of taste." But so fearful were 
these Reformers lest any kind of regard should be paid to the 
faithful dead, that they objected even to a discourse at their 
funerals as savouring somewhat of " popery." 

Archbishop Whitgift writes, in answer to Thomas Cart- 
wright, "Wherein have funeral sermons offended you? or 
with what face of brass dare you liken them to trentals? 
. . . What? is there a more fit time to entreat of the 
mortality of man, and shortness of his days, of the vanity of 
this world, of the uncertainty of riches, of the resurrection, 
of the judgment to come, of eternal life, and of everlasting 
death, and of infinite other most necessary points, than that 
wherein we have a present example before our eyes?" In 
this, as in some other respects, the influence of Geneva lay 


at the back of the captious scrupulosity of the objectors, as 
is illustrated by a letter from Rodolph Gualter, of Zurich, to 
Cox, Bishop of Ely, under date August 26th, 1573. " Funeral 
sermons," he writes, " are not usual among us ; and since 
men are naturally inclined to superstitions, and those 
especially which are thought to aid the salvation of the 
deceased, it is better either to abstain from them altogether, 
or so to conduct them as that all may understand that what- 
ever takes place upon such occasions is done for the sake of 
the living who are present as hearers, and not for the sake of 
the departed." Weak and narrow as such a line of argument 
is, all will admit that there is some truth in a statement 
further down in the same letter, to the effect that on these 
occasions the preachers too often " take up almost the whole 
of their sermons with the commendations of the departed." 

Grindal preached "at the funeral solemnity of the Most 
High and Mighty Prince Ferdinandus, the late Emperor of 
most famous memory, holden in the Cathedral Church of 
S. Paul, in London," on October 3rd, 1564; on which 
occasion there was erected in the choir "an hearse richly 
garnished." Archbishop Sandys also preached in the same 
place at the " Solemnization of the Funeral " of Charles IX. 
of France, on May 30th, 1574. It is scarcely needful to 
add that both these were what would now be called, in our 
much less forcible phrase, " Memorial Services," not strictly 

In the steward's accounts, preserved at Haddon Hall, are 
sundry items of expenditure in connection with the funeral 
in 1650 of Mr. John Eyre, one of the household of the Earl 
of Rutland, in the chancel of the Savoy ; whereof one is an 
entry of ^1 2s. od. paid " to the minister for his sermon." 


In the English Church funeral sermons have dropt very 
largely out of use, though ** orations " are still common on 
such occasions on the Continent. Curiously enough they 
are still popular among those who are most nearly related in 
opinion to the Genevan objectors of three centuries since, 
the Dissenters. On the whole we could well afford to let 
the practice go ; a funeral is of itself a sufficiently harrowing 
experience for the mourners without a long appeal to their 
lacerated feelings; and too often the address becomes a 
mere panegyric, than which nothing can at such a time be 
in much worse taste. 

Not much that is curious has yet had time to gather about 
the Lectern, for it is, in its present use, a modern piece of 
church furniture. In pre-Reformation days there were book- 
stands, or lecterns, provided in many churches, especially in 
large and important ones, for supporting the books of the 
Gospels and the Epistles at Mass ; but the ** lessons," or 
lections, at the daily offices are in their present form an 
outcome of the Reformation, the capUula^ or little chapters, 
of the Canonical Hours being short passages of one or two 
verses only. The lectern for the Gospels was frequently 
made in the form of an eagle, on whose outspread wings the 
book was laid ; and from this we have derived the design of 
so many of our modern lecterns. Merton College, Oxford, 
has an eagle lectern of the fifteenth century, as also has 
S. Gregory's, Norwich, the latter example being dated 1496. 
Several handsome lecterns dating from the seventeenth 
century are in our cathedrals, and in some of our churches. 
Winchester, Wells, Lincoln, York, and Canterbury 
Cathedrals, and the parish church of Lynn, have brazen 
eagles of that date; Salisbury has one dated 17 19; and 


Southwell one formerly in Newstead Abbey. The York 
eagle was almost the only thing saved, and that with diffi- 
culty, from the fire caused in the choir of the minster by 
Martin, the madman, in 1829. 

Bristol Cathedral had a brazen eagle, presented to it in 
1683 by the Rev. George Williamson, sub-dean, the story of 
which has some interest. In the year 1802 the Dean and 
Chapter, wishing for a sum of money for some decoration of 
their cathedral, actually sold this eagle at the price of old 
brass in order to obtain it ! A devout citizen, who attended 
the cathedral services with commendable regularity, noticed 
the absence of the familiar lectern, made a search for it, and 
found it lying at a brazier's, where it was (so it is said) about 
to be melted down. He rescued it, and offered it to the 
cathedral authorities for the small sum at which he had 
bought it, on condition that it was replaced and kept in the 
choir ; his offer was, however, declined. At last it was 
sold by auction, and the notice of the sale is sufficiently 
curious for transcription. It was advertised as follows in a 
local paper : 



To be sold by auction 

At the Exchange Coffee- Room in this city, 

On Thursday, the 2nd of September, 1803, between the 

hours of one and two o'clock in the afternoon, 

(unless previously disposed of by private contract) . 


Brazen Spread Eagle 

IVith a Ledge at the Tail 

standing on a brass pedestal, 

supported by four lions, one at each comer. 


This elegant piece of workmanship was sold, last June, by the dean 
and chapter of the cathedral church of the Holy and Undivided 
Trinity of Bristol, or their agents or servants, as old brass, and weighed 
6 cwt. 20 lb., or 692 lb., and has since been purchased, at an advanced 
price, by a native of this city, in order to prevent it being broken up, 
and to give the inhabitants a chance of buying it. 

It was given to the cathedral, in the reign of Charles IL, by one of 
the prebendaries, who had been there forty years ; and is supposed, by 
the following Latin inscription (which was engraved on the pillar or 
pedestal) to have stood in the choir 119 years : — 

** Ex Dono Georgij Williamson, S. T. B. Hujus Ecclesiae 
Cathedrelis Bristoll : Vice-Decani, 1683." 

That is, ** The Gift of George Williamson, Bachelor of Divinity, Sub- 
dean of this Cathedral Church of Bristol, 1683." 

The whole of the inscription, except the figures 1683, has been taken 
oft the pedestal without the consent of the buyer ; which he has since 
had re-engraved. 

This piece of antiquity, which is of the most exquisite shape, is made 
of the best and purest brass, and well worth the attention of ministers 
and churchwardens, or any gentleman or lady who would wish to make 
a present of it to their parish church ; traders, also, to foreign parts 
may find it worth their while to purchase, as a like opportunity may 
never offer again. 

Such a handsome bird would be, as it has hitherto been, a very great 
ornament to the middle aisle of a church. It for many years stood in 
the choir of Bristol Cathedral, and upheld with its wings the Sacred 
Truths of the Blessed Gospel. The minor-canons formerly read the 
lessons on it, and in most cathedrals the custom is kept up to this day. 

This superb image is now at King Street Hall, and may be inspected 
three days previous to the day of sale. 

N.B. — The purchaser offered, previous to an advertisement, to 
resell the eagle at the price he paid for it, provided it were 
replaced in the choir ; which offer was rejected. 

This lectern found its way eventually to the church of S. 
Mary-le-Port, in Bristol, where it now is. 

Occasionally we find the lectern taking the form of the 
" pelican in her piety," instead of the eagle. The gospel 
lectern at Durham was of this shape, and the tradition 
has been preserved in the modern lectern in the nave, 


which is an exceptionally handsome one. Another such 
exists at Wimborne, and there was one formerly at 

By the eightieth canon the churchwardens are bound 
to provide, for use in church, a Bible "of the largest 
volume," at the charge of the parish. 

The only quaint custom associated with the lectern is the 
one connected with the use of the gad-whip at Caistor, 
Lincolnshire, on Palm Sunday. This extraordinary usage is 
sufficiently described in a petition presented to the House 
of Lords in 1836 by the lord of the manor of Hundon, 
near Caistor (Sir Culling Eardley Smith), begging for its 
suppression. In this document it is said "that the lord 
of the manor of Broughton, near Brigg, yearly, on Palm 
Sunday, employs a person to perform the following ceremony 
in the parish church of Caistor ; a cart-whip of the fashion 
of several centuries since, called a gad-whip, with four pieces 
of wyche-elm bound round the stock, and a leather purse 
attached to the extremity of the stock, containing thirty 
pence, is, during divine service, cracked in the church porch; 
and, while the second lesson is reading, is brought into the 
church, and held over the reading-desk by the person who 
carries it. It is afterwards deposited with the tenant of 
Hundon." It was traditionally asserted that this act was 
originally a penance for a murder, and that the lord of 
Hundon could exact some penalty from the lord of 
Broughton if it were omitted. Sir Culling, in his capacity 
as the former of these magnates, made every effort to stop so 
indecent an interruption to the service, offering to indemnify 
any one who should be a loser by its cessation ; but for 
some time in vain. At last in 1846 the land was sold, 


which was supposed to be held by this objectionable tenure, 
and the practice was allowed to lapse.* 

One word may be added in closing this chapter on 
another article of furniture usually placed near the pulpit 
and the lectern, namely, the Litany-desk. In mediaeval 
times a desk, or form, stood in the midst of the choir for the 
use of the cantors at mass, and other solemn offices. When 
the custom, formerly invariable, of singing the litany in 
procession round the church, or through the parish, was 
exchanged for the present mode of reciting it kneeling in one 
place, this cantors' form was used by the priest, or a desk 
was placed where that had previously been. Hence in 
cathedrals we find the litany-desk in the midst of the choir. 
In parish churches the priest's stall was more commonly 
used for that, as well as for the other prayers, until 
comparatively recently. The litany-desk is often, but quite 
incorrectly, called a faldstool, a term which really means 
a folding-chair or stool, used by bishops or other dignitaries 
in church. Cosin, when Archdeacon of the East Riding of 
Yorkshire, nevertheless calls the litany-desk by this name ; 
and Bishop Andrewes had, in his chapel, a " faldistory " for 
the saying of the Litany. So that the term in this sense 
can claim some authority and antiquity. 

* The last gad-whip used is in the possession of Mr. William 
Andrews, of Hull. 


Z^e font. 

THE earliest churches of which we have any detailed 
account had not fonts within the portion devoted to 
public worship. Baptism was at first administered in the 
open air, on the banks of streams or rivers ; and when it 
became possible to erect spacious buildings for the offices 
of the Christian faith, a special chamber, the baptistery, was 
prepared for its initial sacrament. This was often a distinct 
building of great size ; baptism being publicly administered 
only at stated intervals, so that the catechumens were some- 
times very numerous. It appears to have been about the 
sixth century that the baptistery began to be constructed as 
part of the church itself, though it was still outside the main 
building, a porch sometimes being used for the purpose. 

The laver of regeneration within these baptisteries was 
a well or tank, round or cruciform in plan, whose brim 
was level with the pavement. Steps were provided upon 
the right and left sides by which the catechumen and the 
officiant descended and ascended. According to Thomas 
Cartwright, the Puritan antagonist of Archbishop Whitgift, 
fonts, as we now have them, were "invented by Pope Pius;" 
but this can scarcely be correct. They are certainly later 
than the time of Pius I., who reigned from the year 142 to 
about 157 ; and it is equally clear that they were in use 
before the days of Pius II., who did not ascend the papal 

THE FONT. 155 

throne until 1458. As a matter of fact, the custom of 
baptism by affusion, rather than by immersion, began to be 
usual in the west about the eighth century ; and with this 
came naturally the construction of smaller fonts. At about 
the same time, also, the privilege of baptism was conceded 
to the larger town churches, having formerly been reserved 
to the cathedrals only. Even after this date small village 
churches were not provicjed with fonts, baptism being per- 
formed, as confirmation now is, at important centres and 
at stated seasons, except in cases of necessity ; collegiate 
and conventual churches also, having no parish or district 
assigned to them, had no need of fonts. These exceptions 
explain the terms of a canon of the council of Meaux, held 
in 845 ; " Let no priest presume to baptise except in towns 
and in baptismal churches^ and at the appointed seasons." 
The same phrase occurs in the Constitutions of Archbishop 
Edmund of Canterbury, issued as late as 1236 ; " Let there 
be a stone baptistery in every baptismal church." 

According to Ivo the canonist, who flourished about 1092, 
fonts must be of hard non-porous stone ; and the obvious 
utility of this substance for the purpose has made its use 
practically universal. There are, however, a few interesting 
exceptions. Evenechtyd, Denbighshire, has a unique ex- 
ample of a wooden font, hewn from a single solid block of 
hard timber. At Chobham, Surrey, the outer case is of 
oak, but it encloses a leaden basin. Plumstead Magna, 
Norfolk, has a font of lead, as also have Walton-on-the-Hill, 
Clewer, Wareham, Dorchester, Parham, Tiddenham, and 
Frampton-on-Severn, and at Barnetby-le-Wold, Lincolnshire, 
is an interesting example of the same metal, which is not 
now in use. At S. Mary de Castro, Guernsey, is a small 


font of silver : and on the Continent bronze has been 
employed in several instances. 

The almost invariable shape of the later mediaeval fonts 
is octagonal ; eight being emblematic of renewal, as seven 
is of completion. In earlier times the designer allowed 
himself a greater latitude. Of our surviving examples of 
Norman, or pre-Norman, fonts, the shapes are various. At 
S. Martin's, Canterbury, the font is circular, adorned with a 
single row of intersecting arches, and three rows of inter- 
laced rings : it has no shaft, but is in the form of a truncated 
column. Deerhurst has a Saxon font somewhat similar in 
outline, but more elaborately carved ; and the same form is 
shown in the font at Kirkburn, Yorkshire. Many, however, 
* are externally square, though hollowed into a circular bowl 
within. Winchester Cathedral has an ancient example of 
this type, the sides of which are rudely carved with scenes 
from the life of S. Nicholas. Leicestershire has some 
interesting square fonts ; as, for instance, at Twyford and at 
Ash by Folville. At. S. Peter's, Oxford, is an ancient oval 
example ; and at Newington, Kent, we find another placed 
" buffet fashion,*' against the wall. 

The decorative carvings upon fonts are often elaborate. 
The sides are in some instances enriched with traceried 
arches, as at Patrington, Yorkshire, whose circular font has 
twelve arches sculptured on it, with crocketed pinnacles 
between. Figures, in more or less bold relief, are often 
carved upon handsome fonts. At Coleshill and at Mitton 
we find a crucifix ; at several places, as Lynn, Walsoken, 
Nettlecombe, Norwich, Happisburgh, Worsted and Dereham 
are the emblems of the seven sacraments ; at Stixwould and 
elsewhere are the emblems of the four Evangelists ; at 

THE FONT. 157 

Huttoft is an exceedingly handsome font, having on the 
eight sides of the bowl the Holy Trinity, the Madonna and 
Child, and the Apostles in pairs, on the shaft the figures of 
eight saints, while the whole rests upon the emblems of the 
Evangelists. Graceful, floral, or conventional designs some- 
times wreath themselves about the bowl, as in the 
Leicestershire examples at Burrough, and at All Saints' and 
S. Mary's in the county town. S. Mary's, Stafford, has a 
specially curious font, sculptured with numerous uncouth 
figures. At Kentchester the font is supposed to be a 
section of a Doric column from the Roman station of 
Magna Castra; and at Great Toller, Dorset, is a Tudor 
bowl, the pedestal of which is a Roman altar. Burnham 
Deepdale, and Fincham, in Norfolk, and Melton, in 
Suffolk, have fine carved fonts ; and at Cross Canonby, 
Cumberland, is one supposed to be of Roman workmanship. 
Inscriptions are occasionally added to the other 
sculptures. A thirteenth-century font at S. Anthony, 
Cornwall, bears the legend, " Ecce, Karissimi, de Deo vero 
baptizabuntur Spiritu Sancto ; " at Bradley are the first 
words of the three formulae which sponsors were expected 
to know, namely, "Pater Noster," "Ave," and "Credo." 
The opening words of the Gospel according to S. John, 
"In principio," are upon the font at Dunsby. On several 
fonts in England, and on some abroad, occurs a curious 
inscription in Greek, which reads the same backwards and 
forwards. It may be seen at Hingham, Harlow, Dulwich, 
Melton Mowbray, Warlingworth, and S. Martin's, Ludgate; 
and is as follows : 

that is Nt^ov avofirjfm firj fwvav oxj/iv^ or in English, " Cleanse 


the sin, not the face only." The font at Orford, Suffolk, is 
inscribed, " Orate pro animabus John Cokerel et Katerine 
uxoris ejus qui istam fontem in honore dei fecerunt fieri ; " 
the date of this is approximately fixed by the fact that 
Catherine Cokerel died in 1403. At Wilne, in S. Chad's, 
is a font dating from Saxon days, upon which it was alleged 
that there was a runic inscription ; but after many anti- 
quaries had cudgelled their brains to decipher and translate 
it, it was found to be no inscription at all ; a stone, having 
the figures of a number of men upon it, had been cut in 
two and reversed, the supposed runes being merely the 
series of legs upside down. 

A synod at Durham, in 1220, ordained that fonts should 
be furnished with covers and locks, lest the water should be 
used for enchantments ; and these covers have in several 
cases developed into lofty canopies, or open chambers, 
covering the font as the ciborium anciently did the altar. 
Good examples of the spire-like font-cover exist at Castle 
Acre, at Worsted, and at East Wrethara, in Norfolk; 
Hepworth, Suffolk, has a fine one which happily escaped 
damage from the fire which recently well-nigh destroyed the 
church ; others may be seen in Halifax Parish Church, and 
at many other places. 

The font presented by Her Majesty the Queen to the 
Anglican Collegiate Church of S. George the Martyr, in 
Jerusalem, is provided with a handsomely carved cover of 
this kind. These covers are usually suspended by chains 
from the roof, or from an ornamental bracket in the wall, 
and are raised and lowered by a balanced pulley. At York 
a dragon-headed beam on the north side of the nave held 
the chain of the old font-cover. 

THE FONT. 159 

The canopy over the font is not so common. Two good 
examples are supplied by S. Peter, Mancroft, Norwich, and 
Trunch, in the same county. The former of these is 
supported by four pillars, which were once gorgeously 
coloured, traces of the painting being still visible ; a number 
of angels, some of them with long trumpets, stand on the 
pinnacles and in niches, and one surmounts the whole 
structure, within which hangs the font-cover. The fine 
carving of the wood-work suffered severely in the past, 
probably from Puritan violence, which was extreme in 
Norwich, but the canopy has recently been carefully and 
well restored. The canopy at Trunch is hexagonal, and has 
also been painted and gilded, and its columns and niches 
are finely carved. Another similar erection worthy of 
mention is at Luton, in Bedfordshire. 

The Puritan Cartwright having alleged that the priest 
must go "for baptism unto the church-door," Archbishop 
Whitgift replies, in his "Defence," published in 1574, "I 
know divers places where it (the font) is in the midst of the 
church, some places where it is in the nethermost part, I 
know no place where it standeth at the church-door." This 
is curious, as it is certain that a position just within the door, 
as typifying the catechumen's entrance by baptism into the 
Church Catholic, was a common one for the font before that 
time. In cathedrals and other large churches one of the 
transepts is occasionally used as a baptistery ; but there are 
many old fonts in the country apparently occupying their 
original position, and placed just within the south, or the 
west, door. 

The Puritans had a great aversion to the erection of stone 
fonts, and endeavoured to substitute the use of movable 


basins. Archbishop Parker, writing to Lord Burghley in 
November, 1573, says, "In London our fonts must go 
down, and the brazen eagles, which were ornaments in the 
chancel and made for lectures, must be molten to make 
pots and basins for new fonts ; I do but marvel what some 
men mean, to gratify these Puritans railing against them- 
selves, with such alteration, where order hath been taken 
publicly this seven years by commissioners according to the 
statute, that fonts should not be removed." The order 
referred to was part of the Advertisements issued by the 
bishops, which commanded " that the fonte be not removed, 
nor that the curate do baptise in parishe churches in anye 
basons, nor in any other forme then is already prescribed." 
Even Henry Bullinger, the Genevan Protestant, reckoned 
" a font ready to baptize infants in " among the ** instruments 
belonging to the church ;" but the decent reverence with 
which the people then regarded all the accessories of the 
sacraments scandalized the more extreme men of that 
faction. "Who dare handle the chalice, touch the altar- 
stone, or put his hand into the font, or his finger into the 
holy oil?*' asks William Tyndale, in his "Obedience of a 
Christian Man," published in 1528. 

Cranmer, in his "Answer to the Fifteen Articles of the 
Rebels of Devon, 1549," tells them, "It was thought 
sufficient to our forefathers (for baptism) to be done two 
times in the year, at Easter and Whitsuntide ; as it appeareth 
by divers of their councils and decrees, which forbid baptism 
to be ministered at any other time than Easter and Whit- 
suntide, except in cases of necessity : and there remained 
lately divers signs and tokens thereof : for every Easter and 
Whitsun even, until this time, the fonts were hallowed in 

THE FONT. l6l 

every church, and many collects and other prayers were 
read for them that were baptized.*' -^Ifric issued minute 
instructions to the Saxon clergy for this hallowing of the 
fonts. The ceremonial according to the use of Sarum was 
exceedingly impressive ; the officiating priest being attended 
by five deacons, besides the deacon and sub-deacon of 
the mass, and by acol3^es with cross, torches, incense, holy 
oil, the paschal candle, and the book of the office. Both 
on Easter Eve and Whitsun Eve the ceremony took place 
immediately before mass, following, on the former occasion, 
the benediction of the new fire and of the paschal candle. 
The church accounts of past days contain many allusions to 
this rite. The churchwardens of S. Andrew Hubbard, East 
Cheap, in 15 lo, "paid for a pound taper for hallowing at 
fonte and the cross candelas, viijd."; in 1552 a **towell for 
the fonte taper," — one in which to envelope the lower part, 
probably, while carrying it, — was provided for S. Elphege's, 
Canterbury ; and at S. Mary Hill a small sum, usually ijd., 
was paid on several occasions in the early sixteenth century 
" for water to be hallowed " at Easter even. A white doth 
was wrapt about the font after its hallowing ; and at Salisbury 
on every day during the succeeding Easter week there was a 
solemn procession to the font and seven times around it 

This blessing of the waters is a very ancient rite, and is 
alluded to by some of the earliest Christian authors. S. 
Cyprian, for instance, writing to Januarius and other Numi- 
dian bishops, says, " It is required that the water should first 
be cleansed and sanctified by the priest, that it may wash 
away by its baptism the sins of the man who is baptized ; " 
the " Apostolical Constitutions " also contain a form of bene- 
diction of water for the sacrament of baptism. 



In the first Prayer-book of Edward VI. (1549) there is a 
preface to the Baptismal Office which refers to the ancient 
limitation of its administration to certain seasons. " It 
appeareth by ancient writers," it says, " that the Sacrament 
of Baptism in the old time was not commonly ministered 
but at two times in the year, at Easter and Whitsuntide, at 
which times it was openly ministered in the presence of all 
the congregation : which custom (now being grown out of 
use), although it cannot for many considerations be well 
restored again, yet it is thought good to follow the same as 
near as conveniently may be : wherefore the people are to be 
admonished that it is most convenient that Baptism should 
not be ministered but upon Sundays and other holy days, 
when the most number of people may come together : as 
well for that the congregation there present may testify the 
receiving of them that be newly baptized into the number of 
Christ's Church, as also because in the Baptism of Infants 
every man present may be put in remembrance of his own 
profession made to God in his Baptism.*' The restriction of 
the sacrament, except in cases of necessity, to these two 
great festivals is mentioned by Tertullian, S. Jerome, and 
other early writers; S. Augustine includes the Epiphany 
among the special seasons so marked. It is obvious, 
however, that such a rule, however applicable to the case of 
adult converts to the Faith, could not be enforced where the 
Church had so far obtained the adhesion of the people that 
almost all received her initial rites in their infancy. The 
necessary exceptions in the latter case could not but be so 
numerous as to obscure, and practically cancel, the rule. 

The direction as to the days and times for the administra- 
tion, laid down in the passage just quoted, still holds its 

THE FONT. 163 

place in our Prayer-book, and happily is better observed 
than was even recently the case. In the first half of this 
century, and even later, a strange idea prevailed that it was 
" correct " to treat Baptism as a private rite ; and for the 
administration of one of the most solemn and important 
of the Church's sacraments, it was usual for priest, sponsors, 
catechumen, and a " select party of friends," to assemble at 
a day and hour when they were fairly certain to have the 
church all to themselves. We meet with this peculiar usage 
still in odd instances, but, like so many other practices of an 
era happily departed, it is dying out. 

It was not formerly customary to consecrate the water for 
Holy Baptism before each administration of the sacrament, 
as is the rule of our present Prayer-book ; but at intervals, 
more or less frequent, it was blessed, and retained in the 
font ready for use. By the Constitutions of Edmund, 
Archbishop of Canterbury, issued in 1236, the water was to 
be renewed weekly ; by the Prayer-book of 1549 it was to be 
changed every month, and Ridley, in his Articles of Inquiry 
at a visitation of the diocese of London in 1550, demands 
whether this is done. According to the Scottish office of 
1604, the fresh consecration was to take place fortnightly. 
The Prayer-book of 1552 inserted a prayer corresponding to 
this benediction in the office itself, although the actual 
clause for the hallowing of the element was removed, and 
not replaced until 1662. 

Wealthy persons, who could afford the expense of pro- 
curing it, have sometimes sent for water from the river 
Jordan for the baptism of members of their families ; from 
the not unnatural sentiment that no water is so appropriate 
as that of the stream in which the Saviour Himself submitted 


to baptism at the hands of S. John. According to Pennant, 
a somewhat similar usage was in his time found in North 
Wales. "If there be a fynnon vair, well of our Lady, or 
other saint, in the parish," he tells us, " the water that is used 
for baptism in the font is fetched thence.'* He goes on to 
say, that " old women are very fond of washing their eyes 
with the water after baptism." 

A similar superstition exists in Yorkshire concerning the 
first baptism in a new font, as we have seen to prevail 
regarding the first interment in a new churchyard ; in each 
it is especially unlucky. The infant first brought to the 
font is doomed by the old wives of the parish to an early 
death, an idea probably derived, like others that we have 
considered, from a tradition of the Pagan custom, whereby 
new buildings were inaugurated with animal, or even with 
human, sacrifices. 

When the baptism of a child in some family of local 
importance was to take place, the church was occasionally 
decorated for the service. Strype tells us how, when the 
son of Sir Thomas Ghamberlayne was christened at S. 
Benet's, Paul's Wharf, in 1559, "the Church was hung with 
cloth of arras." 

Two garments were of old specially provided against a 
child's baptism, namely, the bearing cloth and the chrisom. 
The former was a mantle, handsome according to the 
means of the donors, who were usually the god-parents, in 
which the infant was carried to the font. Stowe in his 
chronicle tells us that at that time (1631) the ordinary gift of 
the sponsors was "a christening shirt," adorned with silk 
or blue thread. At Bittersley Court, in Shropshire, an 
example is preserved ; it is of blue satin, embroidered with 

THE FONT. 165 

silver lace, and enriched with fringes and gold vignettes. 
Shakespeare in "The Winter's Tale" (Act iii., 3), alludes to 
this robe ; the shepherd, finding the infant Perdita, exclaims 
** Here's a sight for thee ; look thee, a bearing cloth for a 
squire's child ! " The chrisom was a white linen cloth put 
about the head of the newly baptized, immediately before 
the anointing with holy oil. The Prayer-book of 1549 has 
this rubric, following the actual baptism; "Then the God- 
fathers and Godmothers shall take and lay their hands upon 
the child, and the minister shall put upon him his white 
vesture, commonly called the Chrisom, and say — Take this 
white vesture for a token of the innocency which by God's 
grace in this holy sacrament of baptism is given unto thee ; 
and for a sign whereby thou art admonished, so long as thou 
livest, to give thyself to innocency of living, that, after this 
transitory life, thou mayest be partaker of the life ever- 
lasting : Amen." The chrisom was worn seven days, and 
then was returned to the church, though if the infant died 
within that time (or, as some say, before the mother's 
churching), it was buried wrapt in its chrisom. A statute of 
the Council of Oxford (1222) runs, "Let the casulae which 
are put upon the newly baptized be, from reverence to the 
sacrament, applied to the use of the Church." The employ- 
ment of the word casula^ usually a chasuble, to describe the 
chrisom is curious. An ecclesiastical canon of uncertain date, 
but of about the same time as that just quoted, says also "Let 
the chrismal clothes, which are put upon the newly baptized, 
be brought to the church, and applied only to ecclesiastical 
uses." Our old English name for this garment is evidently 
connected with the anointing with chrism, or holy oil, which 
followed the infant's investure in it 


From the use of this vesture a newly-baptized child was 
anciently known as '* a chrisom child," a term which occurs 
several times in our literature. In his "Holy Dying" 
(chapter L, sec. 2), Jeremy Taylor has this singularly beau- 
tiful passage ; '* Every morning creeps out of a dark cloud, 
leaving behind it an ignorance and silence deep as midnight, 
and undiscemed as are the phantoms that made a chrisom- 
child to smile." Better known are Dame Quickl3r's words 
concerning FalstaflTs death (" King Henry V.," Act ii., 3), 
" 'A made a finer end, and went away an it had been any 
christom child." 

There is a north country custom which appears to be a 
reminiscence of the chrisom ; namely, to allow the child to 
sleep the first night after its baptism in the little white cap 
which it wore at church. These caps were at one time 
made of a peculiar shape ; they had no strings, and left the 
ears, chin, and forehead bare, so that the wearers could be 
christened without removing them. 

In the early Church it was usual for parents to be sponsors 
for their own children ; S. Augustine, indeed, finds it 
necessary to point out that this is not an invariable rule. 
To Boniface he writes, ** I would wish you not to remain 
under the mistake of supposing that the bond of guilt which 
is inherited from Adam cannot be cancelled in any other 
way than by the parents themselves presenting their little 
ones to receive the grace of Christ ; for you write : * As the 
parents have been the authors of the life which makes them 
liable to condemnation, the children should receive justifi- 
cation through the same channel, through the faith of the 
same parents,' whereas you see that many are not presented 
by parents, but even by any strangers whatever, as 

THE FONT. 167 

sometimes the infant children of slaves are presented by 
their masters. Sometimes, also, when their parents are 
deceased, little orphans are baptized, being presented by 
those who had it in their power to manifest their compassion 
in this way. Again, sometimes foundlings, which heartless 
parents have exposed in order to their being cared for by 
any passer-by, are picked up by holy virgins, and are 
presented for baptism by these persons, who neither have, 
nor desire to have, children of their own." 

Feeling, however, so far changed upon this subject that 
the Council of Mentz, in 815, forbade, by its fifty-fifth 
canon, parents to act as sponsors for their own children. 
The idea was, in fact, growing that sponsorship created a 
kind of spiritual kindred which excluded any other 
relationship. A synod held in London in 1200, under 
Archbishop Hubert, decreed that a godson should not 
contract marriage with the daughter of the person who 
baptized him, nor with the daughter of his sponsor, born 
before or after. A quarter of a century later (1225) a 
provincial synod in Scotland forbade marriage between 
sponsors for the same child, between persons who had had 
the same sponsors, and between sponsors and their 

The Penitential of Egbert, Archbishop of York, issued in 
750, ordained that "a man should receive (from the font) a 
female child, and a woman a male child." It would seem 
that a custom subsequently arose of unnecessarily multiplying 
the sponsors, possibly with a view to a greater number of the 
traditional gifts : for a Legatine Council held at York in 
1 195, under the aforesaid Hubert, Archbishop of Canter- 
bury, issued a canon as follows : " We command that in 


baptism no more than three persons receive a child from 
the holy font, namely, two men and one woman for a boy, 
and two women and one man for a girl"; and again at 
Oxford in 1222 a synod promulgated a similar decree, which 
agrees with the existing rule of the Church. 

As to the qualifications of sponsors, one of the Capitula 
made by Ethelred in 994, asserts that '*it was anciently 
decreed " that no one could assume that office unless he at 
least knew the Creed and the Pater Noster, except 
he were of such an age that it was hopeless to expect his 
learning them. The Council of Cealchythe, in 785, had 
decreed the same thing, and was possibly the ancient authority 
alluded to ; it also ^dds the following useful reminder : " Let 
those who receive children from the holy font, and answer 
for those who cannot speak, for the renouncing of Satan and 
his works and pomps, and for believing the Faith, know 
that they are their sureties unto the Lord according to their 
promise ; and when they shall have attained to a competent 
age, let them teach them the aforesaid Pater Noster and 
Creed." By a Synod held in London, under S. Anselm, in 
1 102, monks and nuns were forbidden to be god-parents 
at baptism. 

The twenty-ninth canon of the English Church provides 
that only communicants can act as god-parents, and also, in 
accordance with ancient precedent, forbids parents under- 
taking that office. Its terms are as follows : " No parent 
shall be urged to be present, nor be admitted to answer as 
Oodfathcr for his own child ; nor any Godfather or God- 
mother shall be suffered to make any other answer or speech, 
thati by the Book of Common Prayer is prescribed in that 
behalf : neither shall any person be admitted Godfather or 

THE FONT. 169 

Godmother to any child at Christening or Confirmation, 
before the said person so undertaking hath received the holy 
Communion." The convocation of the Southern Province 
in 1865 altered this by the omission of the first clause 
touching parents; but the Northern Province has not 
interfered with the canon, nor has the amendment referred 
to been confirmed by Royal Letters Patent. 

In some districts of Cornwall it is held to be a sure sign 
that a young man and woman are, or will be, sweethearts, if 
they become sponsors, or, in the local phrase, '* stand 
witness together," for the same child. Elsewhere, however, 
in the same county and in other places, such an act is 
thought to be fatal to the hopes of lovers ; the saying being 
proverbial, "First at the font, never at the altar." Ac- 
cording to a fancy prevalent in Staffordshire and in west 
Shropshire, if one of the god-parents looks into the font, the 
infant will grow up to resemble him. 

The rule laid down by our Prayer-book as to the age at 
which infants should be brought to church to be christened, 
is now more honoured in the breach than in the observance. 
They are seldom now baptized until the mother can also 
come to be churched. The rule, however, is that they 
should be presented on " the first or second Sunday next 
after their birth, or other Holy-day falling between, unless 
upon a great and reasonable cause, to be approved by the 
Curate;" that is, upon the first, or at latest, the second, 
opportunity. This has been the rubrical direction of each 
Prayer-book from that of 1549 onwards. By an ancient 
Northumbrian law, of about 950, every infant was to be 
christened within nine days of birth, and the omission of 
this entailed a fine upon the parents ; should " the infant 


die a pagan " within that time, the parents were bidden to 
" make satisfaction to God without any earthly mulct," but if 
beyond that time, a double fine was exacted. By a canon 
of Edgar, dating about 960, every child was to be brought 
to the font " within thirty-seven " nights of its birth. 

Should there be several candidates for baptism at the 
same time, it is essential, so they think in Norfolk, that all 
the boys should first be christened ; as otherwise the girls 
who precede them will infallibly have beards, while the lads 
will grow up beardless ! This is probably a tradition of the 
established usage in the Church, by which at Confirmation, 
Communion, and at other times, the males take precedence 
of the females. 

There is of course no question but that the primitive 
method of baptism was usually, if not universally, by 
immersion, as is still the rule in the Eastern Church. 
For a long time efforts were made to enforce this usage in 
England. The Council of Cealchythe, under Wilfred, Arch- 
bishop of York, in 816, reminded priests "that when they 
administer baptism they ought not to pour the consecrated 
water upon the infants' heads, but let them always be im- 
mersed in the font, as the Son of God Himself afforded an 
example unto all believers, when He was three times 
immersed in the river Jordan." A synod at Cashel, in 1 172, 
similarly decreed that children should "be baptized by a 
three-fold immersion." This " trine immersion," as it is 
called, was retained in the Prayer-book of 1549; the rubric 
being : " Then the Priest shall take the child in his hands, 
and ask the name : and naming the child, shall dip it in the 
water thrice; first dipping the right side; second the left 
side ; the third time dipping the face toward the font ; so it 

THE FONT. 171 

be discreetly and warily done." A subsequent rubric, how- 
ever, states that "if the child be weak, it shall suffice to 
pour water upon it." The Prayer-book of 1552 omitted 
the three-fold immersion, still retaining baptism by im- 
mersion, however, with the same exception as in the former 
book ; and so the rubric still stands. 

In this connection it may be well to observe that to place 
in a church a font so small that the directions of the Prayer- 
book cannot possibly be obeyed, even should the parents 
desire it, is manifestly a violation of the spirit and intention 
of the Church. It may also be noticed that the Church 
knows nothing of " sprinkling," as a form of baptism ; if 
immersion is not employed, affusion, or pouring, is enjoined. 
The scattering of a few drops of water upon the infant, even 
if the Sacrament is valid under such circumstances, is not in 
accordance with the law of the Church. 

It is a common superstition that it is unlucky for the 
child not to cry at the moment of its baptism, the reason 
being variously given, either that the cry is a sign of the 
expulsion of the Devil, or that the want of a cry shows the 
infant to be ** too good to live." In the Cornish church of 
Wellcombe is a door in the north wall, locally known as 
" the Devil's door," which is opened, at the renunciation in 
the baptismal service, for the exorcised spirit to take his flight. 

In Shropshire it is also considered to be unlucky to 
mention a child's name until it is announced at the font ; 
the father selects it, as a rule, and keeps it as a secret until 
the last moment. The stories of quaint, and even extra- 
ordinary names are almost endless. Scriptural names were 
formerly far more popular than they are at the present day, 
though the names of the most prominent saints in the 


Biblical story will probably always maintain their place as 
common Christian names. In the effort to be original the 
most unlikely and, for practical everyday use, most incon- 
venient names have not seldom been selected from the same 
honoured source. The name Maher-shalal-hash-baz, found 
in Isaiah viii., i, has been borne by two men at least in 
recent times, one resident in Cornwall, and the other in 
Norfolk ; and there have been cases of unfortunate children 
being condemned to go through life as Shadrach, Meshach, 
and Abed-nego. In some districts it was at one time 
customary to confer the Christian name of the incumbent of 
a parish upon the first boy brought to the font after his 
institution. The fashion in names is affected by many 
things. A loyal regard for the reigning house has always 
made the names of princes popular among the people; 
as is illustrated by the common use of George in England 
since the accession of the House of Hanover. In this 
connection it will not be altogether out of place to notice 
the curious aversion that royal families appear to have to 
the name Thomas. Common as it is among the people, it 
alone of our more usual names has been held by only a very 
few princes, and by no sovereign throughout Europe. The 
only exceptions seem to have been four princes of the House 
of Plantagenet ; namely, Thomas, Earl of Lancaster (son of 
Henry III.), Thomas, Earl of Norfolk (son of Edward I.), 
Thomas, Duke of Gloucester (son of Edward HI.), and 
Thomas, Duke of Clarence (son of Henry IV.). A popular 
book will sometimes give a name a temporary vogue, as is 
strikingly shown by the number of girls christened Eva, in 
memory of the heroine of Mrs. Beecher Stowe's celebrated 
novel, " Uncle Tom's Cabin." 

THE FONT. 173 

The Puritan custom of using the titles of moral virtues, 
or even passages of Scripture, as personal names, is well 
known, and has often been made the subject of satire. To 
the former class of names Shakespeare has been supposed to 
allude, when he makes Antonio, in the Tempest (Act ii., i), 
say, " Temperance was a delicate wench " ; and Taylor, the 
water poet, refers to the want of harmony too often observ- 
able between the character and the name in these cases, 
when he says — 

** Though bad they be, they will not bate an ace 
To be called Prudence, Temperance, Faith, or Grace." 

In one instance a man charged with a name of this kind 
mounted eventually to the episcopal throne. Dr. Accepted 
Frewen being consecrated to the See of Lichfield in 1644. 
Of the other order of names just mentioned, the type is the 
celebrated Praise-God Barbones, traditionally connected 
with the Barebones Parliament. In his play, " Bartholomew 
Fair,'' Ben Jonson introduces a Puritan pastor of the name 
of Zeal-of-the-Land Busy, and a woman called Win-the-Fight 

Instances are frequently quoted of exceedingly strange 
names ; and nothing is in its way more curious than the fact 
that, however far-fetched the case may at first seem to be, 
the mention of it usually produces a crop of parallels. It 
was but recently that a Church paper drew attention to the 
registration of a child's baptism by the name Exuperious in 
the year 1702 ; when correspondents promptly cited the 
further examples of one Exuperious Pickering, who died in 
1835 at Ruabon, and lies buried in Llandysylo churchyard, 
and of a graduate of Balliol, Oxford, some thirty years since, 
named Stephen Exsuperius Wentworth. 


The anointing of the newly-baptized infant with conse- 
crated oil is a very ancient usage. The oil, which was 
blessed for the purpose by the bishop on Maundy Thursday, 
was compounded of olive oil and balsam. One of the 
canons of ^Elfric, of 970, enjoins the priest to "have 
consecrated oil of two sorts, one for children (that is, for 
baptism), and the other for the sick," that is, of course, 
for extreme unction. This ceremony was retained in the 
Prayer-book of 1549. 

In more than one part of England the idea prevails that 
baptism is good for the bodies as well as the souls of 
the infants, and a weakly child is brought to the font with 
the confident hope that its ailments will disappear after 
its admission to the Church. 

The English synods were very emphatic in declaring that 
the sacrament of Holy Baptism was to be freely administered. 
A Legatine Council, held in London in 1126, under John 
de Crema, issued a canon as follows ; " We also charge that 
no fee whatsoever be exacted for the chrism, baptism, 
penance, the visitation of the sick, unction, for the com- 
munion of the Body of Christ, or for burial ; '* and this was 
reiterated by another council at the same place in 11 38. 
A synod at Westminster, in 11 73, even more strongly orders 
that " for communion, chrism, baptism, extreme unction or 
burial, not a penny, nor any fee must be exacted." 

Before closing this chapter a few words may be added 
concerning Confirmation, which, as being the completion of 
baptism, may well be included with the initial sacrament of 
the Church. 

Only one superstition appears to have arisen concerning 
this holy rite ; namely, that which holds it to be most unlucky 

THE FONT. 175 

to have the bishop's left hand only laid upon the head. 
Where the prelate confirms two candidates at once, as 
has come to be almost invariably the case, it follows that one 
of necessity must kneel at his left hand. A case has been 
known of a Devonshire woman seeking to be confirmed 
a second time, because of her sinister fortune on the former 
occasion. The idea though common, is usually vague ; in 
the North, however, the evil is more defined, marriage never 
being the lot, so they say, of those who had a left-handed 

Confirmation was formerly administered at a much earlier 
age than is now usual with us. A synod at Durham in 1220 
orders the suspension from communion of the parents of all 
unconfirmed children of seven years of age, until such time 
as they do their duty in that respect. A synod at Exeter in 
1287 ordered Confirmation to follow baptism as soon as 
possible, and " commanded that infants receive that 
sacrament within three years after their birth." The rubrics 
of our modern Prayer-book leave the age of the candidate 
largely to the discretion of the parish priest and the bishop ; 
simply saying that the children must have " come to years of 
discretion," must be "of competent age," and able to say 
the Creed, the Lord's Prayer, and the Commandments in 
their mother tongue, and answer the questions of the 
Catechism. All who have proved their qualifications in 
these respects are to have their names given by "the 
Curate " to the bishop at his coming, for his acceptance or 
rejection. This has been the rule since 1549. 

One regulation, often forgotten now, it is to be feared, 
is that at least one of the god-parents should be present 
to witness each child's confirmation ; the words of the rubric 


are, " Then shall they be brought to the Bishop by one that 
shall be his Godfather, or Godmother, that every child may 
have a witness of his Confirmation.'' 

It has been held that the baptismal name may be altered, 
or added to, at Confirmation, by the Bishop's insertion of 
the new name into the formula pronounced at the laying on 
of hands ; but the claim to have this done is rarely made. 

Anciently the rite of Confirmation included anointing 
with hallowed oil, after which the newly confirmed person's 
head was bound with a white linen fillet, which he wore for 
several days. A constitution of Archbishop Reynold, 
issued at Oxford in 1322, bids the candidates to come 
fasting, and to see that they brought fillets sufficiently 
large; it concludes thus, "Also let children who are 
confirmed be taken to the church the third day after 
confirmation, that their foreheads may be washed by the 
priests near the font, from reverence to the chrism ; and 
then let their fillets be all burnt together." Seven days 
appears to have been the more usual time, however, for 
keeping the fillet, and the remains of the unction, upon the 

Two curious names once in vogue in England for 
Baptism and Confirmation were Volowing and Bishopping, 
The former arose from the priest's instruction to the 
sponsors to reply " Volo " (I will) to the officiant ; the latter 
came naturally enough from the fact that at Confirmation 
only did the general mass of the people come in contact 
with their bishop. Tyndale, in his "Obedience of a 
Christian Man," published in 1528, says, "Baptism is called 
volowing in many places of England, because the priest 
saith * Volo^ say ye. *The child was well volowed' (say they); 

THE FONT. 177 

'Yea, and our vicar is as fair a volower as ever a priest 
within twenty miles.' " And again in the " Answer to Sir 
Thomas More's Dialogue," published by the same writer in 
153 1, he says that it was not unusual to bring children "to 
confirmation straight from baptism, so that now oft-times 
they be volowed and bishopped both in one day." 



Sod^t^xt Anb Cu5tom6 of (gUtriAge. 

THE first formal notice which the Church gets of an 
approaching wedding is, of course, by the first 
publication of the banns ; and with a note or two on this 
subject our chapter on marriage -lore must therefore 

From the primitive ages the Church has used every 
endeavour to prevent clandestine marriages, lest they should 
be contracted improperly, or subsequently be improperly 
renounced. Various methods have been used to ensure 
publicity in different times and places; but a formal 
notification to the faithful assembled in church of the 
intended union has been the approved plan in England for 
many centuries. 

The eleventh canon of the Council of London, in 1200, 
has a clause to this effect, •* Let not persons be married till a 
threefold proclamation has been publicly made in the church, 
unless by the special authority of the bishop;" the Con- 
stitutions of Archbishop Reynold, dated 1322, also insisted 
upon the publication of banns "upon three Sundays or 
festivals distant from each other." Complaint having been 
made that the bishop's licenses were frequently issued, un- 
wittingly, to persons to whose marriage there were legal 
objections. Convocation in 1460 proposed that two pub- 
lications should be made compulsory before even a license 
should be granted. 


The law of the Church in England is now that banns be 
published on "three several Sundaj^." The Council of 
Trent orders the publication on three successive festivals. 

The word banns is strictly a " proclamation," being con- 
nected with an Aryan root meaning to "speak dearly.'* 
Two other words were anciently used in England for banns 
of marriage, namely, spurrings and sibrit The former 
means "asking," being related to the Danish sforge^ and 
found commonly in Scottish, in its original sense, in the 
form speer, Sibrit, which appears also as sibbered, sybrede^ 
and sibberidge, was very early employed in this connection ; 
strictly it means "relationship," or affinity ; and hence came 
to mean a proclamation, or an enquiry, concerning affinity. 
A curious cant phrase, used in several parts of the country, 
as in such distant counties as York and Pembroke, is 
"falling over the pulpit," which is locally understood to 
imply having the banns published ; but the origin and the 
actual meaning of the saying do not seem to be known. 

It is not unnatural that the bride expectant should feel a 
certain virgin shyness about hearing her own name and her 
lover's openly announced in church ; it is therefore not 
strange that she should almost invariably avoid being present 
at the publication of her banns. In the North of England, 
however, something more than maiden modesty is alleged in 
defence of her conduct ; it is held to be absolutely unlucky 
for her to hear the publication, her presence rendering it 
probable that any offspring vouchsafed to her will be deaf 
and dumb. In the parish of Wellow, Nottinghamshire, a 
pretty custom existed until quite recent times for someone, 
selected for the duty by the parish clerk, to rise in his place 
as soon as the banns were published and to say aloud, 


"God speed them well," to which clerk and congregation 
audibly responded ''Amen." A curious fancy exists in 
some places that it is unlucky, or as some would say even 
illegal, for banns to be published on Sundays, some of 
which are in one year and some in another, as on the last of 
December and the first two in January. In Perthshire, even 
if the Sundays are in different quarters of the year, it is held 
to be ill-omened. There is certainly no foundation for the 
doubt as to the legality of such a publication. Another 
superstition in connection with banns is that, should a 
death-bell toll for a married woman on the same day on 
which the banns are published for the last time, the 
prospective bride will not live beyond a twelvemonth. 
This is a South Lincolnshire belief; and a case hap- 
pened in 1888 which quite confirmed the local *^ old 
wives " in it. 

To have banns of marriage duly published and not 
subsequently to proceed to the solemnization of matrimony, 
was of old considered a slight upon those who had been 
called upon to make, or to hear, the proclamation ; and it 
was commonly spoken of as " mocking the Church." Fines 
were frecjuently exacted for such conduct. The following 
extract from the record of the Archdeacon of Lincoln's 
visitation in 1636, shows that Church censures were 
sometimes administered in such cases : " William Ingoles of 
Skirbecke (Quarter and Hanna Moule : p[resented] : for 
being publiquly asked in the Church 3 several Sundayes or 
holydayes beinge 6 wookes since and not p'ceedinge to 
marriage aooordit\g to y* I Awes Cannons and Constitutions 
FciMi'all of this Church of England." 

Forbidding the hanns takes place from lime to time in 


scattered instances, usually on the ground of the youth of 
one of the parties, occasionally on that of their too near 
relationship ; but this is so rare an occurrence as always to 
create some little sensation when it happens. Of old, banns 
were sometimes forbidden upon public, as well as private, 
grounds, and that in a most formal way ; as witness the 
following quaint extract from the parish register of Frampton, 
Lincolnshire, for 1653. "The intentions of a marridg 
betweenne Edward Morten who hath beene some tyme 
in our Towne of Frampton & Jane Goodwin daughter of 
John Goodwin & .... his wife of our sayd Towne, were 
three several Lord's dayes published in our parish church 
here, viz.' on Dec' 18'^ & on Dec' 25'^ & on Jan. i in y« 
yeare of o' Lord 1653 & John Ayre & Thomas Appleby & 
W°™- Eldred in behalfe of y^selves & other of y« inhabitants 
did object y^ two things against y« marridg first y' although 
ye sayd Edward Morten did live lately some short tyme as a 
servant w'^ John Rowles of Algarkirke as they are informed, 
and since hath come and beene w'*» John Goodwin of our 
Towne of Frampton, yet they neyther know nor can learne 
where he has liv'd before y' tyme, nor what hee is whether 
a marryed or single man and therefore they desyred that his 
marriage might bee deferred till such time as hee brought a 
certificate of y** things. And secondly they did object that 
for ought they know and as they verily believed hee was a 
very poore man & y' hee had not then any house to live in, 
& therefore they did desyre y' he might ere hee wur married 
get some sufficient man to bee bound w'*» him to secure y« 
Towne from any charge by him or his, whom they consider 
they were not bound to keepe, hee being till hee lately crept 
into y« foresay'd poore man John Goodwin (father of y* 


foresay'd Jane) his house a poore Strang' to us. These 
things were certifyed & are here recorded by inee. 

Samuel Cony, Register of Frampton."* 

In face of his opposition, Edward Morten may well have 
thought there was something in the belief, above alluded to, 
as to the unluckiness of banns published partly in one, and 
partly in another, quarter of the year. 

The banns of marriage having been duly published, and 
" no impediment " having been alleged, the next important 
consideration is the date of " the happy day " ; and in the 
choice of this there are several questions to be considered. 
There are first sundry seasons during which by ancient 
Canon I^w — still in force, though frequently ignored — 
marriage is prohibited. The chief Church fasts are obviously 
unsuited to the celebration of wedding festivities; and a 
reverence for the sacred mysteries commemorated, led to 
their being forbidden within the octaves of the great 
festivals. In accordance with this, the Constitutions for the 
diocese of Sodor, drawn up in 1291, declare, "We forbid 
any priest to celebrate a marriage from (the beginning of) 
Lent to the octave of Easter." The full rule is given in the 
Sarum Missal, and includes the solemn seasons of Advent, 
I^nt, and Rogationtide, with the following festivals of 
Christmas, Easter, and Whitsuntide ; so that the year was 
mapped out in the method set forth in a note found in the 
register at Norton ; " Marriage comes in on the 13th of 
January, and at Septuagesima Sunday it is out again until 
Low Sunday, at which time it comes in again and goes not 
out till Rogation Sunday, thence it is forbidden until 

* Lincolnshire Notes and Queries, vol. i., p. 109 (18S9). 


Trinity Sunday, thence it is unforbidden till Advent, and 
comes not in again till the 13th of January." The first and 
last dates here given are, of course, that of the octave of the 
Epiphany; throughout the statement the days named are 
included in the times forbidden, the seasons lawful for 
marriage commencing on the morrow and ending on the eve 
in each case. In many parts of the country one of these 
prohibited seasons is recalled in a popular saying, 

** If you marry in Lent 
You'll live to repent." 

In the North of England there is a jingle which allocates 
to each day in the week a certain measure of good or 
ill-fortune, as a result of the marriage contracted upon it : — 

** Monday for wealth, 

Tuesday for health, 
Wednesday the best day of all ; 

Thursday for losses, 

Friday for crosses, 
And Saturday no luck at all." 

It is noticeable that in this rhyme a wedding upon 
Sunday is not contemplated at all, yet that day was at one time 
fashionable for such events, especially in London and the 
South of England. In " The Taming of the Shrew *' (Act 
ii., i) Baptista says, 

" On Sunday next, you know. 
My daughter Katherine is to be married : 
Now, on the Sunday following shall Bianca 
Be bride to you, if you make this assurance ; 
If not, to Signior Gremio." 

There are other illustrations of this fact in the Elizabethan 
The inauspicious character ascribed to Thursday is said 


to arise from our Teutonic forefathers, after their conversion 
to the Faith, looking upon Thor as but one of the 
manifestations of Satan. 

Friday, the weekly commemoration of the world's great 
tragedy, the Crucifixion, is unlucky for all undertakings; 
and consequently for weddings especially. "Friday is a 
cross day for marriage," says the Comishman ; and probably 
both his proverb and the lines above quoted are intended to 
contain an allusion to the Cross, whose shadow darkens that 

In Scotland, and indeed throughout the Border country, 
the whole month of May is regarded as singularly inauspicious 
for weddings ; the old saying being, 

" Marry in May, 
Rue for aye." 

This idea is derived from the superstitions of Pagan Rome, 
where both February and May, together with the Kalends, 
Nones, and Ides of every month, were considered to be 
unsuitable for matrimony. 

The day having been satisfactorily and auspiciously 
chosen, we may turn our attention to the bridal party ; and 
note who should be present in the church, and after what 
fashion. For the bride herself, who of course claims 
priority of place, tradition has settled various matters with 
regard to the fitting attire for this crisis in her life. Every- 
thing green in colour must be rigorously excluded ; Scotsmen 
say, because it is the fairies' favourite hue, and they would 
be jealous if earthly brides aflfected it. The poet Words- 
worth was either ignorant of this prejudice, which is found 
almost everywhere, or careless of it, when he made one of 
his characters 


" put on her gown of green, 
And leave her mother at sixteen, 
To follow Peter Bell." 

White, by an old and widespread tradition, is the popular 
ideal for a bridal dress ; and its suggestion of happiness 
and of maiden purity should make it specially appropriate ; 
but it does not seem to be actually prescribed by any of the 
unwritten laws of the people. The chief positive direction 
on the matter is that the bride must don 

'* Something old, something new. 
Something borrowed, and something blue." 

It was of old the custom for her to wear her hair unbound 
and unbraided, flowing freely upon her shoulders. The 
Princess Elizabeth Stuart, at her marriage with the Palatine 
on S. Valentine's Day, 1613, is recorded to have had "her 
hair dishevelled and hanging down her shoulders." Shake- 
speare alludes to this fashion when he puts into Constance's 
mouth (" King John," Act iii., i) the words, 

" O Lewis, stand fiist ! The devil tempts thee here, 
In likeness of a new untrimmed bride." 

It has been suggested that the bridal veil is nothing but 
a milliner's substitute for this natural covering of ungirt 
locks ; but it is more probably derived from the cloth or 
canopy anciently held over the contracting parties during 
part of the service, as is still the usage in Russia. The use 
of this covering is perhaps derived from Jewish sources, and 
it is still found, under the name of the Ta/etA, in use among 
the modern Jews. In the pre-Reformation missals it is 
called a pallium \ and there are directions for it to be held 
above the heads of the bridal pair, as they prostrate them- 
selves at the altar to receive the nuptial benediction. 


The use of orange-blossom for the adornment of the bride 
is not a very old practice. Flowers of various kinds were 
generally employed largely at weddings, strewn on the floor, 
wrought into nosegays, or in other ways ; but it is obvious 
that the bloom of a plant which blossoms only under ex- 
ceptional circumstances in England, can never have been 
used in a truly national or popular way. 

Under certain circumstances it has been thought prudent 
for a bride to appear at church in a much more primitive 
costume than all this arrangement of white robes, and veils, 
and flowers ; in fact brides have stood at the altar in the 
least possible clothing that decency, and less than comfort, 
required. It was an old idea that a husband, whose wife at 
her marriage was clothed only in a sheet, or in the most 
elementary linen garment, was not in any way liable for the 
debts previously contracted by her. Our parish registers 
and local traditions give us ample illustrations of this 
quaint idea. At Chiltern All Saints', Wiltshire, is the 
following entry : " John Bridmore and Anne Selwood were 
married October 17th, 17 14, the aforesaid Anne Selwood 
was married in her smock, without any clothes or head- 
gier on." Similar cases occurred at Gorton Green in 1738, 
at Ashton-under-Lyne in 1771, and at Otley in 1808. Arises 
Birmingham Gazette for 1797 vouches for an extraordinary 
story, according to which a bride disrobed in the vestry, and 
appeared at the altar without even the amount of clothing 
worn by the ladies in the above cases. The latest example 
of which the present writer knows comes from Lincolnshire. 
The register of Gedney has this commonplace entry; 
"Deer. 2nd, 1842, David Wilkinson, full age, bachelor, 
labourer, of Gedney," to " Susan Farran, full age, widow, of 


Gedney." Local tradition supplements this brief account 
by relating that the bride was dressed in a sheet, stitched 
about her, with holes cut for the passage of her bare arms. 
The idea of this singular custom evidently was, that the 
husband took the person of the wife only, and received with 
her no " worldly goods " whatever ; for there is one case on 
record, as taking place at Whitehaven in 1766, where the 
bride stript in this fashion before the marriage ceremony, in 
order that her estate should not be liable for the husband's 
debts. In London, to judge by a wedding that was 
performed in February, 1723, the same end was gained by 
somewhat more seemly means. It was held sufficient if the 
bride, having shown herself at church in sheet or shift, was 
before the ceremony clothed in garments which notoriously 
had been purchased, not by her, but by the bridegroom. 
It is rather noteworthy that so many of these brides, in their 
eagerness to assume the dignity of wives, were quite 
regardless of their personal comfort ; for in several instances 
they chose most unpropitious seasons for appearing thus 
lightly clad on the flagstones of a church floor. The 
buxom widow of Gedney dared the weather of the 2nd 
December : and the other caSes quoted mostly took place 
in the spring or autumn. Mary Gee, of Gorton Green, 
more prudently chose to be married in this simple guise on 
June 25th. 

It has been usual, time out of mind, for a maiden to be 
accompanied to the altar by one or more of her maiden 
friends : but no girl must perform this friendly office too 
frequently, for the idea is almost universal that she who has 
been thrice a bridesmaid will never be a bride. During the 
procession of the company to the church, the old English 


custom was for the bridegroom to go first, led by two 
maidens, and for two men or boys to follow escorting the 
bride. Waldron, describing the nuptial ceremonies of the 
Isle of Man in 1726, tells us that "they have Bride-men 
and Bride-maids, who lead the young couple, as in England, 
only with this difference, that the former have ozier-wands 
in their hands, as an emblem of superiority; they are 
preceded by musick, who play all the while before them the 
tune The Black and the Grey^ and no other ever is used at 

The one person who, by popular superstition, is bebarred 
from attendance at a wedding, is, strange to say, the bride's 
mother. The father is sometimes present at a rural 
wedding to " give away the bride," but not frequently, that 
office being more commonly assigned to the girl's brother ; 
but the mother's presence is held to be absolutely unlucky. 
This curious fancy is confined to no one district of the 
country; it is found in Durham, in Shropshire, in Essex, 
and in Suffolk, and no doubt in other counties also. The 
presence of a widow at church, as one of the wedding 
party, is also deemed inauspicious. 

In Shropshire it is considered to be lucky for the " best 
man," and even for the so-called bridesmaid, to be married. 
This universal custom of providing an escort for " the happy 
pair " is alleged to be a survival of the barbarian practice of 
" wife-capture ; " a fact which was more obvious a century 
or two ago, when, as just stated, the groom's-men brought 
the bride to church. It was then usual for the lady to be 
taken by her male escort by each hand, and actually led, as 
if unwilling, to the church ; so in the ** Scornful Lady," of 
Beaumont and Fletcher, the heroine asks, " Were these two 


arms encompassed with the hands of batchelors to lead me 
to the Church ? " 

In anticipation of the arrival of the bridal procession, the 
church was adorned with flowers, and the path and aisle 
strewn with fresh rushes. William Browne, in " Britannia's 
Pastoral " (i., 2), published in 1613, thus describes these 
preparations : — 

'* Full many maids, clad in their best array 
In honour of the bride, come with their flaskets, 
Fili'd full with flowers ; others in wicker baskets 
Bring from the marish rushes to o'erspread 
The ground whereon to church the lovers tread." 

Wheat ears, the common symbal of plenty and prosperity, 
seem occasionally to have been mingled with the rest ; since 
we read in Rowe's " Happy Village," published in the 
beginning of the last century, — 

" The wheaten ear was scattered near the porch, 
The green bloom blossom'd strew'd the way to church." 

Formerly the first portion of the wedding service was 
performed in the church-porch. The first rubric in the 
Order for Matrimony in the Sarum Missal begins, ** Let the 
man and woman be placed before the door of the church, 
or in the face of the Church, before the presence of God, 
the Priest, and the people ; " and after the completion 
of the espousals, a further rubric says, " Here let them go 
into church, to the step of the Altar." The Prayer-book of 
1549 altered this, and each subsequent edition has but 
followed its rubrics in this respect, ordering " the persons to 
be married to come into the body of the Church with their 
friends and neighbours ; " the priest and clerks, with the 
man and woman, being subsequently directed, as in the 


older rite, to go up to the altar. The principal door of the 
church is generally opened for the bridal company to enter, 
and, according to a Yorkshire tradition, they must be 
careful to leave by the same ; since to come in by one 
entrance and to go out by another will infallibly entail 
lifelong misfortune. 

Much folk-lore of various kinds has gathered round the 
little circlet of gold, which fills so interesting a place in the 
wedding ceremonial. In attempting to trace out the history 
of the wedding-ring, it is difficult to escape from the confusion 
which is caused by the amalgamation of the betrothal and 
the matrimonial rites in one service. Anciently the former 
was a formal act, entirely distinct from the marriage, yet 
scarcely less solemn and binding; and the giving and 
receiving of a ring formed an important part of the cere- 
mony. The wedding-ring, as distinct from the betrothal- 
ring, came into use about the tenth century ; although there 
are passages in writings much earlier than that date which 
seem to allude to it. Even at the beginning of the third 
century we find TertuUian, in his Apologeticus (chapter vi.), 
writing of a time " when a woman had yet known no gold 
upon her save on the finger, which with the bridal ring 
(pronubo annulo) her husband had sacredly pledged to him- 
self." Remembering, however, the sacred character of the 
ancient betrothal, to which marriage added little except a 
solemn ratification, with the benediction of the Church, it is 
not difficult to imagine that in this, and similar passages, the 
betrothal emblem is really meant. 

The practice of confining the wedding-ring to a simple 
band of gold is comparatively modern, our forefathers 
exercising a wider choice in the matter. Some rings were 


enriched with gems ; others were in the form of the familiar 
symbol of eternity, the coiled snake; on yet others the 
figure of a favourite saint, and especially of S. Margaret, 
the protectress of women in childbirth, was engraved. In 
Tudor times the practice was almost universal of engraving 
some motto, or "posy," on a wedding-ring. In Herrick's 
"Hesperides" there is an allusion to this pretty custom, 
in the lines : — 

** What posies for our wedding rings, 
What gloves we*U give and ribbonings." 

Shakespeare has several references to it, though with respect 
to love-tokens rather than to wedding-rings. In "The 
Merchant of Venice" (Act v., i) Gratiano tells Portia that 
he has quarrelled with Nerissa — 

** About a hoop of gold, a paltry ring 
That she did give me ; whose posy was 
For all the world like cutler's poetry 
Upon a knife, * Love me, and leave me not, 

9 » 

Hamlet again (Act iii., 2) asks : — 

" Is this a prologue, or the posy of a ring ?" 

And yet once more Jaques, in " As You Like It " (Act 
iii., 2), says to Orlando : — 

" You are full of pretty answers ; have you not been acquainted 
with goldsmiths' wives, and conned them out of rings?" 

So usualwere rings of this kind, that some ingenious individual 
put forth a little collection of suitable mottoes, to aid those 
whose originality was not equal to their composition. This 
book, which was published in 1624, is entitled, "Love's 
Garland, or Posies for Rings, Handkerchers, and Gloves, 
and such pretty Tokens that Lovers send their Loves." 


The following are a few extracts from the specimens 

given : — 

"All perfect love 
Is from above. 

In trust 
Be just 

Be tme to me 
As I to thee. 

To me till death 
As deare as breath. 

No crosse so strange 
My love shall change. 

In thee a flame 
In me the same." 

Other mottoes that have been found on English wedding, 
or betrothal, rings are as follows : — 

" Constancy and heaven are round, 
And in this the Emblem's found. 

.Weare me out, Love shall not waste : 
Love beyond Tyme still is plac'd. 

Our contract 
Was Heaven's act 

Not two but one 
Till Ufe be done. 

In thee my choice 
I do rejoice." 

Before the Reformation the wedding-ring was put on in a 
more ceremonious way than is now enjoined. The ring 
having been blessed by the priest, and sprinkled with holy 
water as it lies "upon a dish or book," the directions for the 
investiture of the bride with it are, in the Sarum Missal, as 
follows : " Then let the Bridegroom put the ring on the 
thumb of the Bride, saying — In the Name of the Father ; 
(on the first finger) and of the Son ; (on the second finger) 
and of the Holy Ghost ; (on the third finger) Amen. And 


there let him leave it, because in that finger there is a certain 
vein which reaches to the heart/' The reason here given 
for the choice of the ring-finger is a very old one. Wheatley, 
in his work on the Book of Common Prayer, says of it, 
"This is now contradicted by experience, but several 
eminent authors, as well Gentiles as Christians, as well 
physicians as divines, were formerly of the opinion, and 
therefore they thought this finger the properest to bear the 
pledge of love, that from thence it might be conveyed, as it 
were, to the heart." 

Rings of various metals beside gold have been used for 
the nuptial emblem in past days ; silver, iron, and steel all 
had their specially appropriate significations ; even brass 
and leather have been employed. In more than one case, 
owing to the poverty or the forgetfulness of the bridegroom, 
the bowl of the church door-key has been pressed into the 
service, and has been placed on the bride's fourth finger to 
do temporary duty as a wedding-ring. A canon of the 
Synod of Durham (1220) contains the words, "Let not the 
marriage ring be made of rushes, or of other vile materials." 
A custom seems at one time to have existed, to which 
allusion may here be made, of performing some kind of 
mock marriage — without, of course, any countenance from 
the Church — in which a rush ring was substituted for the 
usual metal one ; and the union thus fdrmed was probably 
dissolved as readily as such a ring could be snapt. Every- 
one will recall, in this connection, the lines in the well-known 
song of "The Mad Shepherdess" (or "My lodging is on 
the cold ground "), — 

** 1*11 crown thee with a garland of straw then, 
And 1*11 marry thee with a rush ring." 



This occurs in Davenant^s play, "The Rivals/* produced 
in 1668, but is probably a much older composition. In the 
old ballad, ** The Winchester Wedding," are the lines — 

" And Tommy was loving to Kitty, 
And wedded her with a rush ring." 

Shakespeare perhaps has a reference to some such usage in 
the Clown's words in "All's Well that Ends Well " (Act ii., 
2), "As fit as Tib's rush for Tom's forefinger." William 
Tyndale also seems to glance at the practice in a passage in 
his " Exposition of the First Epistle of S. John." " The 
Jew," he says, " could believe no words, though an angel 
had spoken, without a token ; . . . and likewise whatso- 
ever they were bid to do, they must have had a token 
of remembrance, though it had been but a ring of a rush." 

The use of the wedding-ring was one of the ceremonies 
strongly objected to by the extreme Reformers, and by the 
Puritans of the Stuart era. Thomas Sampson and Laurence 
Humphrey, two Reformers who were in frequent corres- 
pondence with the fanatical Protestants of Geneva, write to 
Henry Bullinger in 1566 a querulou^^ letter, full of lamenta- 
tions over the "popish" practices stiL in vogue, and among 
the rest they say, " Solemn betrothing takes place after the 
popish method and rites, by the ring." 

As to the objections of the Puritans, Butler tells in 
" Hudibras " (Part iii., 2) of some who . 

** were for abolishing 
That tool of matrimony, a rinf ; 
With which th' unsanctified bi degroom 
Is marry'd only to a thumb ; 
(As wise as ringing of a pig, 
That us'd to break up ground, and dig) 
The bride to nothing but her will, 
That nulls the after marriage stil'." 


Other satirists of the time point their shafts against the same 

place in the Puritans' attack upon the Church. In "A 

Long- Winded Xay Lecture," published in 1674, are the 

following lines : — 

*' Because the wedding-ring's a &.shion old, 
And signifies by the purity of gold 
The purity required in th' married pair. 
And by the rotundity the union fsiir. 
Which ought to be between them endless ; for 
No other reason, we that use abhor." 

Again, in a collection of " Loyal Songs," is one entitled " A 

Curtain Lecture," in which is the following passage : — 

" They will not hear of wedding-rings, 
For to be us'd in their marriage ; 
But say they're superstitious things. 
And do religion much disparage ; 
They are but vain, and things profane, 
Wherefore now no wit bespeaks them, 
So to be ty'd unto the bride, 
But do it as the spirit moves them." 

One such objector was Thomas Cartwright, who, in his 
controversy with Archbishop Whitgift, writes, "They use 
yet a sacramental sign to which they attribute the virtue of 
wedlock, I mean the wedding-ring, which they foully abuse 
and dally withal, in taking it up and laying it down ; in 
putting it on they abuse the name of the Trinity." Hooker, 
dealing with the Puritans of his own day, observes that 
" The ring hath been always used as an especial pledge of 
faith and fidelity : nothing more fit to serve as a token of our 
purposed endless continuance in that which we never ought 
to revoke." 

It is esteemed exceedingly unlucky if the wedding-ring be 
sufiered to drop to the ground during the service ; in some 
parts of Shropshire it is supposed that which ever of the 


bridal couple was so unfortunate as to drop it, will be the 
first of the two to die. It is, of course, everywhere con- 
sidered ominous if the lady takes off the ring, and specially 
so should she break it, or lose it. The natural wearing away 
of the little circlet is variously interpreted. One proverb 
makes it a happy indication, for it declares 

** As your wedding-ring wears. 
You'll outlive your cares. " 

But should the process proceed so far that the slender line 
snaps, it is held to fortell the speedy release of the twain 
from that vow, which they promised to keep " till death did 
them part." Usually it is supposed that the husband's 
death is foreshadowed. A curious idea formerly existed 
among the less educated folk of Oswestry, that if a husband 
failed to maintain his wife, she could free herself entirely 
from the nuptial bond, and marry again, by the simple 
process of returning her ring to her partner. 

At one time it was not unusual to present rings to the 
friends and neighbours in commemoration of a wedding. 
Anthony k Wood relates of Edward Kelly, the alchymist, 
who died in 1595, that "Kelly, who was openly profuse 
beyond the modest limits of a sober philosopher, did give 
away in gold wire rings (or rings twisted with three gold 
wires) at the marriage of one of his maid-servants, to the 


value of ;£4,ooo." 

In some parts of Ireland it is supposed that the contract 
is invalid if anything but a gold ring be used; and 
consequently, to accommodate the poor, rings of that precious 
metal may be had on hire for the occasion ; or the priest 
keeps one, which is used for all who are not provided with a 
ring of their own. 


The modern Prayer-book bids the bridegroom lay upon 
the priests' book not only the ring, but also "the accustomed 
duty to the Priest and Clerk.'' In the book of 1549 these 
latter offerings were spoken of as " other tokens of spousage, 
as gold and silver " ; and the Sarum Missal, having similarly 
ordered the placing of " gold, silver and a ring on a dish or 
book," explains that " by the purity of the silver is signified 
the inward affection which ought ever to be fresh between " 
the married pair. It is to be regretted that the almost 
universal neglect of this portion of the present rubric has 
suffered this relic of a very ancient custom to be forgotten ; 
it would appear, however, that such neglect is by no means 
recent, for Hooker, in explaining the origin of the usage, 
speaks of its lapse as already visible. "The custom of 
laying down money," so he tells us, " seemeth to have been 
derived from the Saxons, whose manner was to buy their 
wives : but seeing that there is not any great cause 
wherefore the memory of that custom should remain, it 
skilleth not much although we suffer it to lie dead, even as 
we see it in a manner already worn out." 

Hooker, in a subsequent paragraph, answers the criticism 
which had been levelled against the word " worship," as used 
in the bridegroom's declaration in delivering the ring to the 
bride, " With my body I thee worship." As the expression 
is still sometimes cavilled at, it will not be out of place to 
add a note here on the subject. Cartwright, in his 
controversy with Whitgift, absurdly alleges that " they make 
the new-married man according to the popish form to make 
fin idol of his wife, saying, * With this ring I thee wed, with 
y my body I thee worship.' " Whitgift and Hooker, of course, 
" both point out that the term means 'honour,' and does not 


necessarily there, or elsewhere, imply divine honour. Of 
this original and correct meaning of * worship * we have still 
several familiar examples. In Holy Scripture, for instance, 
we read how "all the congregation . . . bowed their 
heads, and worshipped the Lord, and the King" (i Chron. 
xxix., 20) ; again of the unforgiving servant in the 
Saviour's parable (S. Matt, xviii., 26) it is related that " he 
fell down and worshipped " his lord ; and yet again, also in 
the Saviour's words (S. Luke xiv., 10), he who humbles 
himself "shall have worship in the presence of them that sit 
at meat " with him. The word itself is but another form of 
worthship^ and implies " to treat as worthy," and hence " to 
honour " ; thus the formal titles of the " Right Honourable 
the Lord Mayor," and of " His Worship the Mayor," are not 
so dissimilar as they appear. The whole of the solemn 
declarations of the bride and bridegroom are almost word 
for word those which occurred in the pre-Reformation 
services ; where, although the office was in the Latin tongue, 
the promises and vows of the contracting parties were 
naturally in the vernacular. 

An idea at one time prevailed in rural districts that it was 
a proper, if not an essential, part of the ceremony that the 
priest should, at the conclusion, kiss the bride. This was 
no doubt a reminiscence of the kiss of peace as given at the 
nuptial mass, but altered in the tradition ; since it is the 
bridegroom, and not, according to this less seemly fancy, the 
priest, who salutes the bride. The rubric in the Sarum 
Missal is very clear. After the Agnus Deiy the paf^'um, 
or nuptial canopy, is removed from above the heads of the 
married couple, and then the direction runs as follows ; 
" Let the Bridegroom and the Bride rise, and let the 


Bridegroom receive the Peace from the Priest and give 
it to the Bride, kissing her, and no one else ; but let the 
Clergy receive the Peace from the Priest, and pass it on 
to the rest after the accustomed manner." Marston, in his 
" Insatiate Countess," published in 1613, has an allusion to 

this nuptial kiss in the words, 

** The kiss thou gav'st me in the church, here take." 

Shakespeare describing, through Gremio, the boisterous 

conduct of Petruchio at his wedding with Katharine 

(" Taming of the Shrew," Act iii., 2), says, 

** He took the bride about the neck, 
And kiss*d her lips with such a clamorous smack, 
That, at the parting, all the church did echo ; " 

and again he makes Richard II. (Act v., i), on hearing 
of his separation from his queen, exclaim, 

** Doubly divorc'd ! Bad men, ye violate 
A two-fold marriage ; 'twixt my crown and me, 
And then betwixt me and my wedded wife. 
Let me unkiss the oath 'twixt thee and me ; 
And yet not so, for with a kiss 'twas made." 

A celebration of the Holy Eucharist, at which the bride and 
bridegroom were communicants, formed the conclusion 
of the marriage service, not only in pre-Reformation times, 
but by the rubrics of the Prayer-books of 1 549, and even of 
1552; in both of which it is stated, "The new married 
persons (the same day of their marriage) must receive the 
Holy Communion." The present book contents itself with 
saying that " it is convenient " for them so to do. 

Among other wedding superstitions is one, commonly 
held, that it is unlucky, if the bride, in taking her husband's 
surname, does not also alter her initials; or, as it runs 
in rhyme — 


" If you change the name and not the letter, 
You change for the worse and not for the better. 


It is, on the other hand, a very happy omen if the new 
initials spell some word. 

At Whitburn, near Sunderland, a unique custom exists in 
connection with weddings. Friends of the newly-made 
husband and wife send pots of a hot compounded beverage 
to meet the party as it comes out of church ; the bridegroom 
first tastes each pot, and passes it to the bride ; after which 
all the party in turn drink. In some instances this must be 
a lengthy process, and one not a little trying to the partakers ; 
for at a wedding some half-century ago, as many as forty 
pots are said to have awaited the appearance of a popular 
couple. This looks very like a degenerated relic of an 
ancient usage. At the conclusion of the nuptial mass 
according to the Sarum use, we find the following rubric : 
" After Mass let bread and wine, or any liquid, be blessed, 
and let them drink it in the name of the Lord." This was 
perhaps originally merely for the sustenance of the wedded 
pair, who, as they had communicated, had of course been 
fasting up to this time. There are many allusions to this 
practice in our literature. In that passage in " the Taming 
of the Shrew " (Act iii., 2) already referred to, we are told 
how Petruchio 

** quafTd off the muscadel, 
And threw the sops all in the sexton's face." 

In DekkePs " Satiro-Mastix " (1602) we read, "When we 
are at church bring the wine and cakes." At Wilsdon, 
according to an inventory of 1547, there were kept in the 
church two masers " for to drynke in at bride-ales." Many 


Other references might be adduced to this once familiar 

In the sanctuary of Jarrow Church, Northumberland, is a 
time-worn chair, traditionally, and not improbably, known as 
that of the Venerable Bede. This formerly stood in the 
vestry ; and every bride, when the party retired thither for 
the signing of the register, was careful to seat herself in the 
old oak chair, as thereby she ensured her own becoming the 
"joyful mother of children." 

Another north country custom, now probably almost, if 
not quite, extinct, is the use of " the petting stone." This 
was a stone raised on two others so as to form a barrier 
across the church-porch, or in the churchyard path, over 
which the bridal party had to leap. It was supposed to 
test the bride's willingness to follow her husband even 
through difficulties. Sometimes, however, it took the form 
of a long stone, on which the bride had to mount, and 
endeavour to step from end to end at a stride, her inability 
to accomplish which was ominous of future unhappiness. 

Music has been from time immemorial an important 
adjunct to the joyousness of a wedding solemnity. Bride 
and groom were escorted to and from the church with 
instrumental music, and the office itself gathered added 
dignity and brightness from both vocal and instrumental 
melody. Hymen, in " As You Like It " (Act v., 4), speaks 
of "wedlock hymns ;" and Capulet, at the supposed death of 
Juliet (" Romeo and Juliet," Act iv., 5) on the eve of her 
wedding, declares that the " solemn hymns to sullen dirges 
change." Nothing could surpass the quaintness of the 
following account of wedding music, which occurs in 
Vernon's " Hunting of Purgatory to Death," published in 


1 56 1 : — " I knewe a priest (this is a true tale that I tell you, 
and no lye), whiche, when any of his parishioners should be 
maryed, woulde take his backe-pype, and go fetche theym to 
the churche, playnge sweetelye afore them, and then would 
he laye his instrument handsomely upon the aultare till he 
had maryed them and sayd masse; which thyng being 
done, he would gentillye bringe them home agayne with 


Z^c C^ancef artb t^t C^oix. 

FROM primitive times it has been usual to divide the 
interiors of churches into sections, increasing in 
sanctity as one advances eastward. In the outer courts, 
and, for some parts of the services, in the lower portions of 
the nave, even heretics and heathen were suffered to stand 
to hear the preaching of the faith ; beyond them the faithful 
in full enjoyment of the privileges of the Church had their 
places ; but beyond even these lay the sacred enclosure 
within which only the clergy might enter. This was anciently 
variously named. It was the dema^ a word sometimes 
meaning the lectern, sometimes the raised bench of seats 
for the priests, and sometimes the part of the church in 
which both these were situated; it was the sacrarium or 
sanctuary, as corresponding with the Sanctum Sanctorum of 
the older Dispensation ; it was the thusiasterion, the place 
of the altar, the word strictly meaning the altar itself ; it was 
the presbytery^ or place of the priests ; and yet further it was 
named adyta^ the place inaccessible to the laity. None of 
these titles have been brought into use among us as descriptive 
of this section of the church, although we employ sacrarium, 
and less frequently presbytery, to indicate the section within 
the altar-rails. Two other expressions, however, have early 
authority, and are still familiar to us. The fourth Council 
of Toledo, held in 633, in its seventeenth canon, bids the 


priests and deacons to communicate before the altar, the 
clerks, or inferior clergy, within the choir (in charo\ and the 
people outside the choir. Again, Eusebius of Caesarea, who 
flourished about 315, tells us that, in the church built by 
Paulinus, the extremity containing the altar "was divided 
from the rest by certain rails of wood, curiously and arti- 
ficially wrought into the form of network, to render it 
inaccessible to the multitude ;'' and from this network 
barrier, of which this is our earliest instance, called in Latin 
cancelli^ we get our modern name chancel. 

The idea that the whole congregation has a right to see 
everything which goes on within the chancel — an idea which 
has led in not a few cases to the mutilation, or even the 
destruction, of chancel screens — is certainly not primitive ; 
for it was an early custom not only to fence off this sacred 
enclosure from the approach of the laity, but also to veil it 
from their gaze. The Eastern Church, the most conservative 
portion of Christendom, still shuts in the chancel with a solid 
screen pierced only by " the Holy Gates," which are closed 
and curtained at the most sublime portions of the holy 
mysteries. Similarly Synesius (about 410) speaks of "the 
mystical veils," S. Chrysostom (about 398) and Evagrius 
(about 594) of "the folding doors," and S. Athanasius 
(about 330) of " the hangings " ; all of them referring to the 
same thing, namely, the screen, impenetrable to the eyes of 
the people, which separated the chancel from the nave. 
Such ponderous stone screens, pierced only by a central arch 
for gates, as we see in the cathedrals of York, Lincoln, and 
elsewhere, are so far from being the outcome of " the dark 
ages" that they are distinctly primitive in idea, if not in 


We will not, however, spend time here considering the 
rood-screen and its statuary, the great crucifix with its 
attendant figures of the Blessed Virgin-mother and S. John, 
beyond saying that in mediaeval days almost all English 
churches were provided with this imposing structure, or at 
least with a beam carrying the three figures, forming a fitting 
entrance to the most sacred portion of the House of God ; 
and that in not a few churches, both in towns and in villages, 
its use has now been restored.* Beneath this loft let us 
pass within the chancel itself. 

During the celebration of divine service the laity were 
rigidly excluded from this section of the church, although 
there is evidence that the right to occupy some part of it 
was often claimed by the wealthier or the more powerful 
parishioners. The Constitutions of Bishop Walter, of 
Durham, in 1255, bid "rectors and others to prevent 
laymen from sitting or standing in the chancel during 
the celebration of mass, unless they be patrons of the 
churches, or unless some venerable person be admitted out 
of respect." A Provincial Council in Scotland in 1225 
promulgated a canon to this effect, " Let not laymen presume 
to sit or stand among the clerks about the altar, while the holy 
mysteries are celebrating, except our lord the King and the 
nobility of the realm." Again in 1 230 among sundry articles of 
enquiry in the diocese of Lincoln, it is asked " Whether any 
of the laity persist in standing in the chancel with the clergy." 
From the days of the Revolution down to recent times, an 
era as ignorant of ecclesiastical usages as it was, for the 

* For further notice of the rood-loft, its uses, destruction, and restora- 
tion, the reader is referred to the author's "The Cross in Ritual, 
Architecture, and Art" (Andrews & Co.). 


most part, careless of them, the chancels of our churches 
were in many instances blocked with high pews, which 
reached almost to the very steps of the altar. We have now 
substituted almost throughout the country another and far 
more seemly custom, but one which, in the case of ordinary 
parish churches, is almost as far removed from the methods 
of our ancestors. For it is certainly a mistake to suppose 
that the long lines of white-robed choristers are really a 
revival of an ancient usage in the bulk of our parish 
churches. '* Choirs and places where they sing " meant, in 
mediaeval times, cathedral and collegiate churches, but did 
not include the ordinary parish churches. The chancel was 
thus anciently reserved for the exclusive use of the clergy 
and the assistant ministers at the altar, with the addition, in 
churches having a capitular body, of such singers as were 
provided for on the foundation. 

Much may be said on behalf of our more modern usage, 
but it must be admitted that the tendency is to push it to 
an inconvenient extreme. Nothing is added to the dignity 
of the Church, or gained by its music, in crowding the 
chancel of a small rural church with benches, and con- 
signing the chief part in the singing to a body of untrained 
men and boys. In such cases it surely would be better to 
preserve such space as the little chancel affords to the 
clergy (and acolytes, if there be any) alone ; and to entrust 
such music as the people can sing to the people themselves, 
led by a small choir sitting near them or among them. 

In connection with the exceptions named above, whereby 
certain laymen were allowed seats within the chancel, it is 
interesting to note that the sovereign of England has of 
right a prebendal stall in the choir of S. David's Cathedral. 


At the time of the Reformation this belonged, ex officio^ to 
the Master of S. Mary's College in that city ; and at the 
suppression of all such foundations the property of S. Mary's 
was seized by the Crown, and given away or sold. A 
prebendal stall, however, not being worth much as a 
marketable commodity, this remained in the hands of the 
King, and passed with his other dignities to his successors. 
It is scarcely needful to add, that the right to the stall did 
not, nor was ever suggested to, confer any sacerdotal 

The earliest form of chancel terminated in an apse ; the 
altar standing upon the chord of the arc, a throne for the 
bishop being behind it against the eastern wall, and seats for 
the clergy filling the curve on either side of the throne. We 
have traces of such an arrangement in the cathedrals of 
Canterbury and Norwich, but basilican churches, of which 
this form of chancel was one characteristic, were never 
general in this country. It would seem as if, in early times, 
not much more accommodation was made for the clergy in 
the chancel than for the laity in the nave ; for the recognized 
name of the priests' places during the choir-offices is stalls^ 
which strictly means standing places, and not seats. 
Standing and kneeling were in fact the only attitudes 
formally recognized during divine service; sitting was 
afterwards allowed as a concession, rather than a right. 
The dignity of the bishop has, however, always been 
marked by the provision of a throne for his use in cathedral 
churches. In Greece a T-shaped crutch is allowed to the 
aged monks to support them during the recitation of the 
offices ; and the introduction of a similar practice in the 
monasteries of the west was the first departure from the 


rigour of the original rule, which insisted upon all monks 
standing throughout their services, except when required to 

The rule once relaxed, the way was open for the gradual 
development of the stalls, with arm-rests, book-rests, 
canopies, and hassocks, as we find them to-day. In the 
ninth and two following centuries, we read of forms for the 
use of the clergy ; Maestricht had stalls in 1088 ; from the 
thirteenth to the fifteenth century we find ample notices of 
the adornment of these seats with carvings, hangings, 
painting, and canopies. At first, however, only the higher 
dignitaries and aged monks were allowed to occupy stalls ; 
deacons, and junior monks, sat on benches below them ; 
while choristers and vicars-choral stood or knelt upon the 
floor. For the due oversight of all the members of the 
choir, the four persons of highest dignity sat at the four 
corners ; the dean in the westernmost stall on the south 
side, the precentor in the corresponding one on the north, 
while the chancellor and the treasurer were similarly placed 
at the eastern end ; between these sat the other members 
of the chapter in order of seniority. Frequently the 
westernmost stalls, to the number of three or four on each 
side, were *' returned," that is, turned round so as to face the 

In many of our old conventual churches we find a form 
of seat which was intended to provide a compromise 
between the standing posture, at first insisted upon for the 
recitation of the Psalter, and the sitting position, 
subsequently tolerated. This ingenious arrangement was 
known as a misertcorde, and is sometimes less correctly called 
a miserere. It consisted of a narrow shelf beneath the seat ; 


SO that the latter, which was hinged, having been raised, the 
occupant of it could rest, half-sitting and half-standing, 
against the ledge beneath it. There is an early English 
example in the Lady Chapel at Westminster ; and several in 
different places have attracted some attention from the 
curious carvings with which they have been adorned. It 
would almost look as if the monastic artist, having work 
assigned to him which would seldom meet the eye of his 
brethren, and scarcely ever that of the laity (for the miseri- 
corde is, as we have pointed out, on the under-side of the 
seat, and visible only when that is raised), sometimes gave 
full liberty — not to say license — to his fancy ; and in this 
way gave us examples of monastic humour which are rather 
interesting than edifying, rather commendable in handicraft 
than in taste, as decorations of the church. 

At Wellingborough, Northamptonshire, a church once 
served by the monks of Croyland Abbey, is a misericorde, 
the carving of which, if secular, is at least not flippant. It 
represents a shoemaker with a board upon his knees, on 
which lie various implements of his craft, among which the 
awl, the hammer, the file, and sundry knives can be readily 
distinguished ; he is occupied in cutting out a leather rose 
for the decoration of a shoe. The church has five other 
misericordes, all of them dating probably from the reign of 
Edward IV. Among the satirical subjects carved on these 
misericordes, a favourite was the preaching fox. It appears 
at Ripon ; Reynard being in the pulpit, with a goose and a 
cock, standing in an attitude of great attention, on either 
side. A similar scene, or another in which the fox suffers 
the last penalty of the law and hangs upon a gallows, is 
found at S. Mary's, Beverley, at Boston, Bristol, Nantwich, 



and Sherborne. At Beverley are a number of quaintly 
carved misericordes ; on one two cocks are sparring on a 
barrel, others have figures of a cock, and of an elephant 
driven by a monkey. In several cases we find what is 
alleged to be a mediaeval form of the classic emblem for the 
day with its preceding and following nights, known as 
Darkness devouring Light. The usual antique figure 
consists of two eagles watching the altar of the sun, or 
pecking the fire therefrom ; on a misericorde at Beverley it 
appears as two swans with a cylinder between them, from 
which they feed ; at Ripon the altar has been replaced by a 
tree. At Wells is a carving which recalls one of our most 
familiar nursery rhymes, and a not uncommon publican's 
sign, the cat and fiddle; the same combination occurs 
elsewhere. Other strange groups are a sow playing the 
bagpipes for a number of dancing pigs, at Boston ; several 
frolicking jesters, and some grimacing jesters' heads, at 
Beverley; and numerous equally curious and fanciful 
carvings. Scriptural subjects, however, are also represented ; 
as the story of Samson and of Jonah at Ripon, and the 
return of the Israelite spies at Beverley. Besides the places 
already named, interesting examples of misericordes may be 
found at Exeter, dating from the thirteenth century; at 
Chichester, Ely, Gloucester, Hereford, Lincoln, Bristol, 
Manchester, Chester, Cartmel, Darlington, Wimborne, 
Penkridge, and in several other places. 

The adornment of the chancel, except by such permanent 
decoration as the carving of wood in screen, stalls, and 
perhaps reredos, or of stone in arches, niches, and so forth, 
does not call for much remark. The altar is vested in 
colours varying according to the sacred seasons of the 


Christian year; and sometimes hangings of rich colours 
used to be introduced to add warmth of look to the chancel 
on special occasions. Among the ornaments preserved at 
S. Paul's in the seventh year of King Edward VI. were 
*'baudkins of divers sorts and colours, for garnishing the 
quire for the King's coming, and for the Bishop's seat." 

A . natural mode of expressing joy, still used without 
criticism in secular rejoicings, is by means of illuminations ; 
and the Church has chosen a similar mode of manifesting 
her feelings; though here the Puritan finds matter for 
objection. The great Paschal Candle, lighted on Easter 
Eve and placed near the altar, as a symbol of the return of 
Him, who is the Light of the World, and as a token of 
Easter joy, was often a most magnificent structure. In 
1557 three hundred pounds of wax were required for the 
making of one used at Westminster Abbey ; at Durham, the 
candle-stand, besides holding " a great long square taper of 
wax called the Pascall," had sconces, in the form of flowers 
of metal, for six smaller tapers, and had a great deal of 
carved work and beaten metal to adorn it. Parish accounts 
often allude to the provision of this great taper, which is 
kept burning at vespers and mass from Easter Eve to the 
Gospel on Ascension Day ; at Reading, for instance, 5s. 8d. 
was paid in 1559 for "makyngeof the Paschall and Funte 
(font) Taper." 

Candlemas, as its name implies, was another occasion for 
an ecclesiastical illumination. At the procession before the 
High Mass a multitude of tapers was carried ; but the 
chancel also received its special adornment by the burning 
of many lights. There is a curious account of an attempt 
made by Cosin, subsequently the first bishop of Durham 


after the Restoration, to revive this striking usage in the 
northern cathedral. It is contained in a sermon entitled 
"The Vanity and Downfall of superstitious Popish 
ceremonies, preached in the Cathedral Church of Durham, 
by one Peter Smart, a prebend there, July 27th, 1626." 
The tale which Prebendary Smart waxes so wrath over is to 
the effect that " on Candlemas Day last past, Mr. Cozens, in 
renewing the Popish Ceremony of burning candles to the 
honour of Our Lady, busied himself from two of the clock 
in the afternoon till four, in climbing up long ladders to 
stick up wax candles in the said Cathedral Church : the 
number of all the candles burnt that evening was two 
hundred and twenty, besides sixteen torches, — sixty of those 
burning tapers and torches standing upon, and near, the 
high altar (as he called it), where no man came nigh." 

As to the number, and use, of the candles upon the altar, 
or altars, of the Church, the cross, or crucifix, which stands 
amid them, and the flowers which so frequently are mingled 
with them, nothing need here be said; except that there 
is ample evidence that the modern revived employment 
of them has connecting links with their usage in the remote 
past, in their appearance here and there upon our altars, 
even in the days of the greatest irreverence, ignorance, 
and neglect. 

There was a custom for the choristers themselves, and 
even the priests, in some places to deck themselves with 
flowers on S. Barnabas' Day (June nth). In the parish 
accounts for S. Mary-at-Hill, London, during the reign 
of Edward IV., there is the entry of a sum disbursed for 
^ Rose garlondis and Wood rove garlondis on St. Barnebe's 
Daye ; " and in i486 the following occurs : ** Item, for two 


doss' di boose garlands for prestes and clerkes on Saynt 
Barnabe daye, js. xd ;" and yet again, in 15 12, we read, 
"Rose-garlands and Lavender, St. Barnabas, js. vjd." 
Anciently the feast of S. Barnabas, falling so near Mid- 
summer Day, was far more regarded in England than it 
is at present. At Lichfield Cathedral on Ascension Day 
the choristers " beat the bounds " of the moated close, the 
boys bearing long green boughs, which they carry with them 
from the church, and on returning deposit on the steps 
of the font. 

One of the most extraordinary customs, as it seems to us, 
in connection with the choir is the practice, once in vogue, 
of playing at ball in church at Easter. Among other places 
it is recorded to have taken place at Chester Cathedral on 
Easter Monday. The origin of the usage is obscure, though 
it has been supposed to be not distantly related to the more 
general Easter custom of presenting coloured eggs to one's 
friends. However it arose, it was conducted in a fashion 
which implies that it had some religious significance, and 
was in fact considered at its commencement as a religious 
ceremony. The deacon received the ball, and immediately 
began to chant an antiphon, moving meanwhile in a stately 
step in time to the music ; then with his left hand he tossed, 
or handed, the ball to another of the clergy ; when it had 
reached the hands of the dean, he threw it in turn to each 
of the choristers, the antiphon, accompanied by the organ, 
meanwhile continuing. The statutes of the cathedrals 
regulated the size of the balls used in this strange rite. In 
many places there is a tradition still that the game of 
football is especially appropriate to Easter Monday ; and in 
several towns until quite recent times that game was played 


in the streets by a promiscuous concourse of people on that 
day. It is natural to imagine that there may be some 
common origin to this and to the practice just described. 

Another form of " sport," once popular in Yorkshire, and 
especially in the city of York, is alleged by tradition to have 
taken its rise in the chancel of a church in the northern 
metropolis. The festival of S. Luke was known throughout 
the North as Whip-dog Day, from the absurd and brutal 
custom of encouraging every lad to go about on that day 
with a whip, and pursue and beat every unhappy dog that 
he might encounter. The story which is quoted in explana- 
tion of this, is to the effect that a priest, in singing mass on 
S. Luke's Day in a church in York, by some accident dropt 
the consecrated host, which was snapt up by a dog which 
had crept in unawares and lain down beneath the altar. 
The dog, according to this rather improbable tale, paid the 
penalty of its sacrilege with its life, and all other dogs had 
to suffer an annual castigation in memory of that fact for 
many years after. 

The ceremonial of creating a Boy-Bishop at Childermas 
and on S. Nicholas' Day has very often been described. 
We have notices of this custom in all. parts of the country, 
not only in cathedral and collegiate churches, but in many 
simple parish churches. The office of " barne bishop '* can 
be traced back as far as 13 19 at Salisbury, and to 1369 at 
York. Colet, Dean of S. Paul's, found much that was com- 
mendable in the usage, and in his statutes for S. Paul's 
School, issued in 1578, ordained that the scholars should 
hear the child-bishop preach in the cathedral annually. It 
was required at York, and probably elsewhere, that the lad 
chosen for this mock-dignity should be one who had served 


well in the minster, who was sufficiently comely, and whose 
voice was clear and unbroken. The boy chosen was duly 
invested in all the proper vestments of a bishop, while a 
number of his companions were suitably robed to attend 
him as priests and deacons. The duration of his brief 
" episcopate " is variously given ; according to some accounts 
it commenced on Childermas Eve and terminated at the 
second vespers of that festival, so that it lasted only for 
about twenty-four hours ; elsewhere, however, it is said to 
have begun on S. Nicholas' Day (Dec. 6th), and to have 
ceased on Childermas Eve (Dec. 27th), so that it lasted in 
this case for some three weeks. Probably the usage was not 
uniform throughout the country. During the tenure of the 
office, the boy-bishop performed all the functions of the 
actual dignitary, holding a kind of visitation, singing vespers 
and other offices, appointing (so it is alleged, at least at 
Salisbury) to any prebend that fell vacant, and even 
(incredible as it seems) singing some imitation of the mass.* 
On December 7th, 1229 (the morrow of S. Nicholas), a 
boy-bishop sang vespers in the presence of Edward I. at 
Heton, Newcastle-on-Tyne. Thomas de Rotherham, Arch- 
bishop of York, bequeathed a mitre of cloth-of-gold adorned 
with silver to the "Barnes Bishop" in 148 1. A statute of 
the Collegiate Church of S. Mary Overy, forbade the boy- 

* Warton says that he performed all the ceremonies, ** the mass 
excepted." The Computus of Hyde Abbey for 1327, however, contains 
a disbursement for feasting the boy- bishop who had celebrated mass on 
S. Nicholas* Day ; and Henry VHI.'s proclamation for the abolition of 
the whole farce distinctly alleges that it was part of the usage for boys 
to "singe masse and preache in the pulpitts." It seems, therefore, 
certain that so far was the mock ceremonial carried that the child 
actually sang some sort of **dry mass" ; for that he was ever suffered 
to go further than that, it is perfectly impossible to believe. 


bishop to go in procession beyond the limits of his own 
parish. The sermon of the boy-bishop preached at Gloucester 
(Cathedral in 1558 is yet extant, and gives a painful picture 
of the irreverence of the choristers ; we may feel sure that 
in this, and all other cases, the sermon was composed for 
the juvenile preacher by some one of the clergy of the 

This mock election, with all the attendant ceremonial, 
was condemned by a council at Nice in 1274, and again at 
a synod at Carnot in 1526; in England it was suppressed 
by a proclamation issued by Henry VIII. in 1542. The 
passage in that document which concerns this matter runs 
as follows : " Whereas heretofore dyvers and many super- 
stitious and chyldysh observances have been vsed, and yet 
to this day are observed and kept, in many and sundry parts 
of this realm, as upon saint Nicholas, saint Catherine, saint 
Clement, the holy Innocents, and such like, children be 
strangelie decked and apparayled to counterfeit priestes, 
bishoppes, and women, and so be ledde with songes and 
daunces from house to house, blessing the people and 
gatheryng of money ; and boyes do singe masse and preach 
in the pulpitt, with soche other vnfittinge and inconvenient 
vsages, rather to the derysyon than any true glory of God, 
or honor of his sayntes : The Kynge's maiestie therefore 
myndinge nothinge so moche as to advance the true glorie 
of God without vaine superstition, wylleth and commandeth 
that from henceforth all svch superstitious obseruations be 
left and clerely extinguished throwout his realme and 
dominions, forasmvch as the same doth resemble rather the 
vnlawfuU superstition of Gentilitie, than the pure and 
sincere religion of Christe." 


Whether the loss of such privileges as these rendered the 
life of a chorister less attractive we cannot say, but it is 
evident, from a manuscript now in the British Museum, that 
in the reign of Elizabeth some difficulty was found in main- 
taining the supply of boys suitable for the purpose. This is 
a document authorizing the impressing of children to be 
trained as choristers. The full text is as follows : — 

**By the Queene, Elizabeth R. 

** Whereas we have authorysed our servaunte Thomas Gyles, Mr. of 
the children of the cathedrall churche of St. Paule, within our 
cittie of London, to take upp suche apte and meete children as are 
most fitt to be instructed and framed in the arte and science of 
musicke and singinge as maye be had and found out within anie 
place of this our realme of England or Wales, to be by his education 
and bringinge up made meete and liable to serve us in that behalf 
when our pleasure is to call for them. 

** Wee therefore by the tenor of these presents will and require you 
that you permit and suffer from henceforthe our saide servaunte 
Thomas Gyles and his deputie or deputies, and every of them to 
take up in anye cathedrall or collegiate churche or churches, and 
in everye other place or places of this our realme of England and 
Wales suche childe or children as he or they or anye of them shall 
finde and like of, and the same childe or children by vertue hereof 
for the use and service aforesaide with them or any of them, to 
bring awaye withoute anye letts, con trad ictons, staye, or interrup- 
tions to the contrarie, charginge, and commandinge you and everie 
of you to be aydinge, helpinge, and assistinge to the above named 
Thomas Gyles and his deputie and deputies in and aboute the due 
execution of the premisses for the more speedie, effectuall, and 
better accomplishing thereof from tyme to tyme, as you and everie 
of you doe tendar our will and pleasure, and will answere for 
doinge the contrarie at yor perilles. 

*' Gouen under our signet at our Manor of Grenewich, the xxvith 
daye of Aprill, in the xxviith yere of our reign. 

**Toall and singular deanes, prouostes, maisters, and wardens of 
collegies, and all ecclesiastical psons and mynisters, and to all 
other our officers, mynisters, and subiects to whome in this case it 
shall apperteyne, and to everye of them, greetinge." 


Coming to the part taken by the choir in the services 
of the Church, we enter upon a subject which is so wide that 
here it can only be touched upon. Historically it may be 
said to stretch in an unbroken line from the organized 
singers of the Tabernacle down to our own time ; while the 
various forms which that organization has taken, for the 
better rendering both of the vocal and instrumental music 
of the sanctuary, provides numerous questions for 
examination. Nor has controversy been excluded even 
from a subject so essentially requiring harmony, and 
calculated to promote it, as this. At different times and in 
various places the lawfulness of the use of music at all has, 
strange to say, been called in question ; the employment of 
instrumental music was long considered of more than 
questionable propriety by a large section of the extreme 
Reformers ; and even among ourselves at the present day, 
the rival claims of the ancient and dignified plain-song and 
of the more varied music of the modern composers, are 
sometimes argued, not without a certain amount of heat. 

The antiphonal form of chanting, that is by the division 
of the choir into two sections, which sing alternately in 
answer one to the other, is unquestionably extremely 
ancient ; and was probably derived by the Christian Church 
from the earlier Jewish tradition. In large choirs, as in 
cathedral and collegiate churches, it was (and indeed still is) 
usual to divide the choristers into two bodies, sitting 
respectively on the side of the dean, and of the precentor, 
and hence called Decani and Cantoris, A yet more ancient 
use, however, is said to have been for the whole body 
of singers to be placed on one side of the chancel, the 
officiant occupying the other ; and thus versicle and 


response, antiphon and psalm, were sung alternately by them. 
Usually once a week the side of the choir was changed, 
that the higher clergy, who maintained their places, might 
officiate in due order. 

We cannot be too thankful that at the Reformation the 
musical portions of our services were not interfered with 
more than they were. For among the foreign Reformers, 
some of whose opinions had sadly too much weight in 
England, they were regarded with great suspicion ; and 
indeed music generally was treated with singular contempt. 
Bullinger and Gualter write from Zurich in 1566 to two 
English bishops, Grindal and Horn, and express their 
regret that " measured chanting in churches is to be 
retained, . . . together with the sound of organs ; " 
and the bishops, replying in the following year, say that they 
will not " assert that [these things] are to be retained, but 
we disapprove of it, as we ought to do." A letter to 
Bullinger in 1566 reports that "the use of organs is 
becoming more general in the churches ; " and another to 
the same in 1567 informs him that "the Archbishop of 
Canterbury (Cranmer) has caused an organ to be erected in 
his metropolitan church at his own expense." This can 
scarcely have been approved by Thomas Becon, Cranmer's 
chaplain, who, in his " Jewel of Joy," declares music to be 
" a more vain and trifling science than it becometh a man, 
born and appointed to matters of gravity, to spend much 
time about;" and again, "that music is not so excellent 
a thing, that a Christian ought earnestly to rejoice in it." 

In their efforts to discountenance music, and especially 
instrumental music, as an adjunct to the solemnity of public 
worship, the extreme men were put to the expedient of 


explaining away such precedents as they could not deny 
Scripture afforded. William Thorpe, in his examination 
before Archbishop Arundel, maintained "that music and 
minstrelsy, that David and other saints of the old law 
spake of, ought now neither to be taken nor used by the 
letter ; but these instruments, with their music, ought to be 
interpreted ghostly." With such fanatics there was, of 
course, no arguing. 

In Scotland, as is well known, these sentiments for a long 
time held sway, and organs are even now barely more than 
tolerated in some of the Presbyterian kirks ; even the 
singing of " Caralles '* was prohibited by Act of Parliament 
in the northern kingdom ; although New Year's Eve is 
still called Carol Ewyn in Perthshire, from the custom of 
singing from door to door on that night. 

In England carols of old were extremely popular, and 
were sung in church at Christmas time, a custom that has 
happily been largely revived of late. These were the 
vernacular sacred songs, or hymns, of the people, and were 
sung, not by the choir only, but by the whole congregation. 
Formerly on Christmas Day, especially at evensong, sung, 
as was universal till recently, in the afternoon, appropriate 
carols often took the place of the psalms appointed for the 
day. Nowhere, however, have carols had, and maintained, 
a greater popularity than in the Isle of Man. There, 
under the name of carvals^ they have long been sung by the 
people in church on Oi^l Verrey, or Christmas Eve. A 
crowded congregation assembled on this occasion, every 
one bringing a candle for his own use, the multitude of 
twinkling lights making a striking picture. Evensong having 
been said, and a hymn sung, every one in turn, who knew a 


<< carval," was at liberty to sing it ; and as these Manx carols 
are some of them of great length, and there were many 
vocalists forthcoming, the service frequently lasted until a 
very late hour. The parish priest in the old times usually 
left long before the conclusion, leaving the clerk in charge 
of the people ; and then there was only too often a good 
deal of horseplay and misbehaviour before the congregation 
finally broke up. This service is still continued, but is now 
kept within more reasonable limits ; and, under the personal 
supervision of the clergy and led by the choir, has been 
deprived of such elements in it as were open to objection. 
In Wales choral services have also been from of old 
extremely popular at Christmas, the usual time in the 
Principality being early on the morning of the festival It 
is probable that in both cases these services are a re- 
collection of the midnight mass of the Nativity, once 
universally offered throughout the country. 

The use of metrical hjmins is very ancient in the Church, 
some of the Latin compositions of the kind having as their 
authors such early and honoured fathers as S. Hilary of 
Poictiers, S. Gregory Nazianzen, Paulinus of Nola, 
Prudentius, and S. Ambrose. The only ancient metrical 
hjmin formally authorized by the English Church since the 
Reformation is the " Veni, Creator Spiritus," which forms 
part of the Ordinal This fine hymn is first found in the 
works of Rabanus Maurus, who flourished about 847, and 
has been variously assigned to S. Ambrose and Charlemagne. 
We have, of course, no authorised Hymnary in the English 
Church. The first attempt to provide something of the 
kind was made by Thomas Stemhold, groom of the robes to 
Henry VI H. and Edward VI., who turned into English 


metre fifty-one of the Psalms ; a contemporary writer, John 
Hopkins, versified another eighty-five, and the remaining 
fourteen were similarly treated by other hands. This version, 
commonly known as " Sternhold and Hopkins," came into 
general favour for use in church, and continued so for about 
a century. In 1696, however, appeared a rival version ; 
this was the joint work of Nahum Tate, who had been 
appointed poet-laureate in 1690, and of Dr. Nicholas Brady. 
This book received a sort of quasi-authority, and was 
commonly bound up with the Book of Common Prayer. It 
speedily displaced Sternhold and Hopkins, and was used in 
many churches until comparatively recent years ; nay, it is 
even said yet to hold its place in one or two out-of-the-world 
corners. Within the present century a multitude of 
hymn-books have been compiled for the use of the Church, 
in which translations of many of the mediaeval hymns, as 
well as compositions of modern writers, are included ; and 
these have ousted the metrical psalms. In this way a great 
gain has been made in the way of useful, yet popular, 
devotional literature ; and we avoid the monotony of singing 
repeatedly in metre what has been already said or chanted in 
the metrical prose of the Prayer-book Psalter. Even in the past 
the need was occasionally felt for some hymns more suitable 
for particular occasions than a metrical psalter could supply ; 
and wonderful are the stories of the versified abominations 
inflicted upon congregations by "poetical" parish clerks. The 
arrangement and choice of the music was in those days left 
almost, or quite, entirely in the hands of that functionary, who 
from his place in the ** three-decker," announced the hymns 
according to the following quaint, but not inappropriate, 
formula, " Let us sing to the praise and glory of God 


psalm * so-and-so.' " An example of the home-made verse 
perpetrated by some of these worthy men will perhaps be 
interesting ; there are several that might be quoted, but 
they usually lack the verifying details of date and place. 
The following, however, was sung in Osmotherly Church, 
Yorkshire, during a cattle-plague in 1747. There are eight 
stanzas, the first four of which describe the deceased cattle, 
and express sympathy with their owners, whose names are 
given ; then follow these sublime lines : — 

*' No Christian's bull nor cow, they say 
But takes it out of hand ; 
And we shall have no cows at all, 
I doubt, within this land. 

" The doctors, though they all have spoke 
Like learned gentlemen. 
And told us how the entrails look 
Of cattle dead and green ; 

** Yet they do nothing do at all. 
With all their learning's store ; 
So Heaven drive out this plague away 
And vex us not no more." 

Strictly speaking the consideration of the psalmody of the 
period here alluded to, does not belong to a chapter on the 
chancel ; as at that time the choristers, assisted by a little 
orchestra of amateur musicians, usually occupied a western 
gallery. With the inauguration of organs almost everywhere, 
the old parish orchestra has died out ; a fact which one 
cannot regard without some regret. Some effort might 
surely have been made to blend the new and the old, to 
preserve the fiddles and bassoons as allies of the organ. 
The company of minstrels to accompany the music of the 
divine offices is, in fact, an ancient institution, worthy of 
preservation from its long tradition, as well as for its own 


sake. A gallery for its accommodation was often erected ; at 
York and at Chichester there was such a loft above the 
reredos, at other places the minstrels were sometimes placed 
in the rood-loft ; the north side of the nave was elsewhere 
found the most convenient situation, and a gallery, built 
there for this purpose, exists at Wells and at Exeter, and in 
several foreign cathedrals. At S. Mary's, Beverley, is a 
pillar in the nave, usually called " the Minstrels' Pillar," from 
the fact that the capital is carved with the figures of five 
musicians playing respectively on the harp, lute, treble and 
bass flute, and tabor ; while in I^tin the inscription runs 
beneath, " Pray for the souls of the players." As a sample 
of the constitution of the parish orchestra of modern times, 
it may be mentioned that at Crowle, Lincolnshire, at the 
date of its supercession by an organ in 1847, the band 
consisted of two fiddles, a double bass, a flute, a clarionette, 
and a bassoon. 

The organ has also a venerable antiquity, and is mentioned 
as existing in England as early as the year 700 ; and many 
of our large churches had more than one, in different parts 
of the church. The custom, till lately common, of placing 
the organ on the rood-screen began only at the Restoration, 
when the wholesale destruction of the Puritan era necessi- 
tated the rebuilding of instruments in most of the cathedrals. 
It is now giving way to a method of arrangement, far 
preferable both from its appearance and its musical effect, by 
which the organ is divided, and placed above the stalls, on 
either side of the chancel. The development and use of 
this king of musical instruments, to be fairly treated, would 
require at least some chapters ; we must therefore pass on. 

Against the east wall of the church in most cases stands 

thf: chancel and the choir. 225 

the altar ; although in cathedrals a chapel, usually the Lady 
Chapel, lies eastward of the high altar. In bygone days, 
however, the altar did not usually stand absolutely against 
the wall as is now usual, but at the distance of a few feet 
from it. This is illustrated by a charm for fits, in vogue 
in Devonshire and Cornwall ; the sufferer was directed to 
enter the church at midnight, and walk thrice around the 
altar. In the majority of churches this would now be 

Another form of the charm, a variant introduced perhaps 
since the performance of the above perambulation has 
become difficult, is to walk thrice around the church at the 
same ghostly hour, and then to enter and stand before the 
altar. This is said to have been tried at least once in 
Crowan Church, Cornwall, with disastrous results. A young 
man, having performed the first part of the charm, was feeling 
his way up the church in the darkness, when he placed his 
hand upon a human head ! With a piercing shriek he fainted, 
and only recovered to be taken, a hopeless lunatic, to the 
asylum, where he died. The head was, as a matter of fact, 
that of the sexton, who in all kind-heartedness had come in 
to protect the midnight walker from being alarmed by any 
practical jokes. 

The sanctity of the altar is invoked as a cure in other 
ways. A piece of a candle that has burned on the altar of 
the parish church of S. Blazey (dedicated to S. Blaize), Corn- 
wall, if applied to a tooth or to the throat, is locally supposed 
to be an effectual cure for any pain in those members ; and 
diseases in cattle yield to the same remedy. " Sacrament 
wine," that is wine of the same kind, or drawn from the same 
stock, as that offered in the Holy Eucharist, has also had 



specially curative properties ascribed to it ; but whether this 
arises from any fancied virtue which it derives from its very 
remote connection with the Blessed Sacrament, or whether 
it is only that country clergy have sometimes used a similar 
wine for the altar and for giving to the sick poor, it is not 
very easy to determine ; perhaps both these ideas are com- 
bined in the belief. 

At S. John's College, Hurstpierpoint, there is an alleged 
omen of death in the house, which is interesting from the 
fact that the belief in it must be of very recent growth, the 
college having been founded only in 1851. A robin is said 
to fly into the college chapel, and to alight upon the altar and 
sing there, previously to anyone in the institution dying. 
For such an idea to have arisen within the last half-century, 
it would seem that so singular a circumstance must at any 
rate have happened two or three times within that period ; 
a fact which in itself is curious. 

At S. Ives, Huntingdon, there is a custom still in use, 
which originally involved a strange and irreverent employ- 
ment of the altar. A certain Dr. Robert Wilde, dying ih 
1678, bequeathed to the parish the sum of ;^5o, which was 
to be invested, and the income expended as follows ; once 
a year a sermon on the value and use of Holy Scripture was 
to be preached by the vicar, who was to receive los. for 
doing so ; after this, six boys and six girls, chosen from the 
parishioners, were to go up to the altar, and thereon cast 
three dice each, the six who succeeded in throwing the 
highest number being awarded Bibles, the cost of each 
copy not to exceed 7s. 6d. The requirements of the doctor's 
will are still observed, save that a small table, placed at the 
chancel step, is now used for the dice-throwing ; and the 


desecration of the altar is avoided. The money was invested 
in a parcel of land, now known as " Bible Orchard." 

The practice of making a reverence towards the altar on 
entering and leaving church, — a usage stigmatised as super- 
stitious, popish, idolatrous by certain critics of the Church — 
is not only ancient, but has been observed continuously in 
very many parts of England : its now not uncommon use 
cannot strictly be called a revival, since it has never ceased. 

Amongst the older regulations on the subject, we may 
note one of the statutes of Lincoln Minster, dating from 
1440, whereby the vicars, who had been in the habit of 
running heedlessly and irreverently about the choir, were 
bidden to bow to the altar at every entrance and egress. 
Laud, in his revised statutes of Canterbury, required a 
similar act of reverence ; and it seems to have been observed 
as an unbroken tradition at S. George's Chapel, Windsor, 
Christ Church, Oxford, and in Durham Cathedral. In 
1635, Mainwaring, Dean of Worcester, reproved the king's 
scholars there for coming into the cathedral tumultuously ; 
and ordered that they should enter two and two in an 
orderly manner, and make their due obeisance. A canon 
of the synod of 1640 was concerned with this practice, of 
which it speaks as follows : — " We heartily commend it to 
all good and well-affected people, that they be ready to 
tender to the Lord their reverence and obeisance, both at 
their coming in and going out of church, according to the 
most ancient custom of the primitive Church in the purest 

It is in country parishes and in quiet old-world spots that 
we must look, however, for the most part for instances of 
the continuance of this usage. The Manxmen observed it 


regularly until quite recent times, and Bishop Wilson tells 
us that, on his going to the island, he was requested by 
Archdeacon Hewestone to l)e careful *' to make obeisance at 
coming into and going out of church, and at going up and 
coining down from the altar ; all ancient, commendable and 
devout usages which thousands of good people of our 
Church practice at this day.'' Similarly in English villages 
the practice has in many cases only decayed amid the 
general carelessness of the present century. Not more 
than sixty years ago, so it is said, the custom was universal 
among the Lincolnshire rustics of Kirton-in-Lindsey for the 
men to pull their forelocks and for the women to curtsy on 
entering and on leaving church ; and the same is related of 
many parishes. 

Among the modern additions to the furniture of the 
chancel must he counted the altar-rails. Originally, as we 
have seen in a passage quoted early in this chapter, the laity 
communicated outside the choir ; the altar therefore needed 
no protection beyond the chancel-screen. When, however, 
the Reformers pulled down these screens, and the Puritans 
began to drag the altars into the midst of the chancel, or of 
the church, placing them table-wise, it became necessary 
to provide some new form of protection. In the time of 
Hishop Andrewes, therefore, the use of altar-rails began, 
that saintly prelate referring to them under the name of 
** wainscot banisters." They did not, however, become 
general until the days of Laud, who insisted upon the 
altars being replaced altar-wise, and being fenced about to 
prevent their being irreverently used. As the employment 
of this railing was a visible assertion of the sanctity of the 
altar and of its mysteries, the Puritans detested it ; and the 


journal of William Dowsing, the Parliamentary visitor of 
churches during the Great Rebellion, shows that he had it 
pulled down wherever met with. In some churches, at the 
time of the offering of the Holy Eucharist, this rail is covered 
with a linen cloth, a relic, or revival, of the " houselling- 
cloth," which communicants held beneath the chin to catch 
any fragment of the Blessed Sacranrient which might fall. 
Among churches where this ancient custom still prevails are 
S. German's, Wimborne, Leamington Priory, and Hensall, 
in Yorkshire. 


^fm6 Anb Offeringe. 

FROM apostolic times it has been customary for the 
Church to act, to a great extent, as the almoner of 
her people; collecting their contributions and distributing 
them, usually in three ways — for the poor, the fabric of the 
churches, and the support of the clergy. Opportunity was 
also given from very early days for the faithful to exercise 
their charity in giving alms in connection with the public 
services of the Church. To some such custom S. Paul 
alludes, when he writes to the Corinthians (i Cor. xvi., 2), 
" Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by 
him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no 
gatherings when I come." S. Chrysostom also refers to a 
practice, whereby the deserving poor were encouraged to 
stand at the church-door to receive alms from those who 
entered. " Therefore the poor stand before the doors of the 
church," says he, "that no one should go in empty, but 
enter securely with charity for his companion : you go into 
church to obtain mercy, first show mercy ; make God your 
debtor, and then you may ask of Him, and receive with 
usury : we are not heard barely for the lifting up of our 
hands ; stretch forth your hands not only to heaven, but 
also to the hands of the poor." 

The offerings of the people in those primitive times were 
very various ; as they often are now in missionary stations in 


barbarous lands. But not all gifts might be brought to 
the altar for solemn presentation. Bread and wine for 
use in the Eucharist were so offered ; the first-fruits of 
corn and grapes, as representative of all other first-fruits, 
and oil and incense for the services of the Church, these 
also might be laid upon the altar, but not at the time of 
the Eucharist. Money does not appear to have been re- 
cognized for some time among the offerings which were 
to be formally received and presented. 

The old name of the feast of S. Peter's Chains, on 
August I St — Lammas Day — recalls some of the gifts in kind 
anciently made in the English Church. This word has 
been variously interpreted as meaning Lamb-mass and 
Loaf-mass. In connection with the former the Welsh name 
is quoted, which is Dydd degwm wyn, or lamb-tithing day ; 
and there is also instanced an old usage at York. It is 
alleged that the tenants of the Chapter of York, whose 
minster is dedicated in the name of S. Peter ad Vincula, 
had on this festival to bring a live lamb into the church 
during the celebration of High Mass, and to present it at 
the altar. There is, however, far stronger evidence on behalf 
of the other derivation. King Alfred in his translation of 
Orosius renders the Kalends of August by " Hlaf-Maesse " ; 
and, as if to supply the connecting link between that form of 
the word and the more modern one, the Anglo-Saxon 
Chronicle, under the date of 921, speaks of this festival as 
^^ hlam-maesser It is obvious, therefore, that Loaf-mass is 
the original word ; and this has been further explained by 
the use of Festum primitiarum, or feast of first-fruits, as an 
equivalent Latin term : and it is said that a loaf, made from 
the newly-harvested wheat, was on this day presented at the 


altar as an act of thanksgiving. It was a day far more 
considered of old than in recent times; and ancient 
chroniclers frequently date events as happening at Lammas- 
tide. Robert of Gloucester says, of King Edmund, that 
"y« lam masse afterward he spousede y« queue " ; the Saxon 
Chronicle reports that William Rufus was slain on the 
morrow after Lammas Day; and one of the ballads of 
Chevy Chase, fought on the eve of that festival in 1388, 
begins — 

** It fell out about the Lammas tide 
When yeomen win the hay, 
The doughty Douglas gan to ride 
In England to take a prey. " 

The offering of the lamb at York leads us on to other 
animal oblations. In Carnarvonshire there was, in 
Pennant's days, a curious usage, which was not wholly 
extinct half a century since. On Trinity Sunday the people 
of the neighbourhood brought to the church of Clynnok 
Vaur, as they had formerly done to the monastery there, all 
such calves and lambs as had been born that spring with 
a certain birth-mark on the ear, known as Nod Beuno^ or S. 
Beuno's mark. These the churchwardens received and 
sold ; the money being applied to the relief of the poor, 
or the repair of the fabric of the church. Until expended 
the proceeds of the sale were kept in Gyff S. Beuno^ or 
S. Beuno's Chest, a massive coffer hewn from a log of oak, 
and secured with three locks ; whence any difficult matter is 
locally compared to " breaking open S. Beuno's Chest." 

On S. Agnes' Day two lambs are solemnly blessed at the 
church of that saint at Rome, being carried on cushions to 
the altar ; and from the fleeces of these are subsequently 


woven the woollen pallia given to the archbishops of the 
Roman obedience. 

There were other similar cases in mediaeval England ; the 
offering of the animal being not seldom, as at York, a form 
of land tenure. A white bull was annually presented at the 
abbey in Bury S. Edmund's ; and the fishermen of the 
Thames offered a salmon at the altar of Westminster Abbey. 
At S. Paul's from the reign of Edward I. to that of 
Elizabeth a doe was presented to the dean and chapter, 
and solemnly received by them at the choir steps, on the 
feast of the Conversion of S. Paul ; and similarly a fat buck 
was brought thither in the summer. This was done in 
accordance with a bequest of one of the family of Le Baud, 
some of whose descendants and their retainers were com- 
monly present at the ceremony. The manor of Raby was 
held of the Chapter of Durham by the Nevilles for the service 
of a stag presented at the cathedral on S. Cuthbert's Day. 

After the battle of Neville's Cross the victors offered the 
spoils of the Scots, the banners, jewels, and, above all, the 
famous Black Rood of Scotland, at the high altar of 
Durham Cathedral. The tattered banners of our regiments 
are still often delivered to the custody of the Church by 
which they were originally blessed ; and on their reception 
they are placed first upon the altar, and then hung some- 
where within the walls, of a church connected in some way 
with the regiment. 

A rather frightful, certainly unchristian, oblation was the 
Welsh Offrwm Gelyn^ the offering of one's enemies. In this 
weird rite a man, imagining himself injured or aggrieved, 
went to a church dedicated in the name of some famous 
and powerful saint ; and there, kneeling upon his bare 


knees, and first propitiating the saint with an ofiering of 
money, he called down every conceivable malediction upon 
the head of his supposed enemy, his family, possessions, and 
descendants. The classic Greeks had a custom almost 
precisely similar. 

In treating of curious offerings, the royal oblations and 
gifts at Epiphany and on Maundy Thursday must not be 

In commemoration of the gifts of the Magi to the In&nt 
Saviour it has long been the practice for the English 
sovereign jxirsonally or by deputy to make an offering at the 
altar of the Chapel Royal, S. James's, of gold, incense, and 
myrrh. The three gifts are enclosed in bags or purses of 
white kid placed within a crimson velvet box. In 1731 
the Gentieman's Magazine records that " the king and the 
prince (Oeorge II. and Frederic, Prince of Wales) made the 
offerings at the altar of gold, frankincense, and myrrh, 
according to custom." This usage is said to have lasted 
for nearly eight hundred years, and the sovereign himself 
made the offering in person down to the middle of the last 
century. On these occasions the king advanced to the altar 
in great state, preceded by heralds and pursuivants, and by 
the sword of state, and accompanied by the Knights of the 
(Jarter, the Thistle, and the Bath, all arrayed in the collars 
of their respective orders. In the year 1758, however, the 
(ive of the ICpiphany found the royal family of England in 
great sorrow, as on that day took place the funeral of the 
J'rincess Oroline ; (jeorge III. therefore deputed the Lord 
ilif^li Chaml)erlain (at that time the Duke of Devonshire) 
to make the offerings in his stead on the morrow. Since 
then the sovereign has not again appeared in person at the 


ceremony ; and now two Gentleman Ushers of the House- 
hold act as the royal deputies. The offerings themselves 
also declined within recent times, and became merely paltry 
amounts of myrrh and incense, and a trumpery roll of gold- 
leaf. In i860, at the suggestion of the late Prince Consort, 
twenty-five sovereigns were substituted for the last gift ; and 
these are afterwards distributed to the deserving poor of the 
neighbouring parishes. The function is therefore now not 
only an interesting survival, but one that is practically useful. 
A similar practice obtains at the court of Spain. 

The Maundy gifts form the only surviving part of a much 
fuller ceremonial, in which the sovereign, in imitation of the 
humility of Christ, washed the feet of a number of poor folk, 
and then presented them with alms, and provided for them 
a meal. James II. was the last English king who personally 
performed this office, though for fully half a century later it 
was executed for the sovereign by a deputy. In 1731 the 
Archbishop of York, as Lord High Almoner, performed the 
duty. As, however, in any case the feet-washing and the 
dinner took place in one of the royal halls, and not, of 
course, within the Chapel Royal, they lie outside our limits. 
The donation of money is still continued, and forms part of 
a religious ceremony. The Chapel Royal, Whitehall, is 
used for the service, which, in its devotional aspect, consists 
mainly of prayers for the welfare of the sovereign, and of 
anthems, usually dwelling upon the blessedness of charity. 
At intervals in the service the several gifts are distributed, 
consisting of shoes and stockings, woollen and linen cloth, 
and money. This last is given to each recipient in two 
purses of red and white respectively. The red purse 
contains a sovereign, and since 1838 has also held a second 


sovereign and a half-sovereign in lieu of the banquet 
formerly provided, to which was added a certain amount of 
food, which each was allowed to carry away. The white 
purse contains the Maundy money proper, consisting of as 
many pence as there are years in the sovereign's life, the 
sum being made up of silver pieces valuing 4d., 3d., 2d., 
and id. These coins are struck at the Mint specially for 
this purpose, but the 3d. piece of ordinary currency is 
practically the same as the Maundy coin of that value. 
The others, being necessarily somewhat rarely met with, are 
frequently exchanged afterwards by their recipients for 
ordinary coins at a considerable advance in value. 

Maundy gifts of the several kinds above mentioned, and 
graduated according to the age of the donor, were not of 
old limited exclusively to royalty ; for the Household Book 
of the Duke of Northumberland, in the early part of the 
sixteenth century, contains a list of similar gifts presented by 
him to poor folk on Maundy Thursday ; and the practice is 
spoken of as if of long standing. 

The only place in the Book of Common Prayer at which 
it is ordered that alms should be collected from the 
congregation in general, is in the office for the Holy 
Eucharist ; though in the course of the " Visitation of the 
Sick," we read, " The Minister shall not omit earnestly to 
move such sick persons as are of ability to be liberal to the 
poor;" and again, "the woman that cometh to give her 
thanks," that is, to be Churched, " must offer accustomed 
offerings." The rubrics in the Communion service are two, 
as follows : " Then shall the Priest return to the Lord's 
Table and begin the offertory, saying one or more of these 
sentences following, as he thinketh most convenient in his 


discretion;" "Whilst these sentences are in reading, the 
Deacons, Churchwardens, or other fit person appointed for 
that purpose, shall receive the alms for the poor, and 
other devotions of the people, in a decent bason to be 
provided by the parish for that purpose ; and reverently 
bring it to the priest, who shall humbly present and place it 
upon the Holy Table." 

The use of the word " Offertory " in the former of these 
rubrics has been misunderstood, and has of recent years led 
to its misuse. It has in some way got to be considered the 
" correct " name for the alms, which it is not, nor ever was. 
In its widest sense the Offertorium^ or offertory, is all that 
portion of the Eucharistic office which centres round the 
act of solemnly offering the elements previous to their 
consecration ; it begins with the " sentences," in the 
English rite, and ends with the Preface before the Sanctus. 
Two other derived meanings of the same word are, first, an 
anthem anciently sung during the collection of the alms and 
oblations of the faithful ; and, second, a silken napkin, akin 
to the more modern humeral veil, in which the deacon 
enveloped the chalice when offered to him by the priest. 
There is no authority for using the word as equivalent to 
the thing, or things, offered by the congregation. 

The custom of committing the collection of the alms to 
the deacons is very ancient, but has necessarily dropt out of 
use with us, from the fact that there is so seldom one, and 
extremely rarely more than one, present at a service in an 
ordinary parish church. In the days when the diaconate 
was in many cases a permanent office, and when large 
churches, as in the primitive Church, had seven or more 
attached to them, it was, of course, very different. 


The basin, or dish, in which the alms are collected for 
presentation on the altar is often very handsome. At S. 
Margaret's, Westminster, are examples in latten of Flemish 
manufacture ; and an ancient one in the Norfolk and 
Norwich Museum has a representation of the Annunciation 
in the centre ; that also now used at S. Paul's is very large, 
and is similarly enriched with a copy of Rafifaelle's cartoon 
of S. Paul preaching at Athens. A good many now in use 
bear the names of their donors, and the date of the gift ; 
but very few really old ones have survived to modern times. 
Wooden boxes, instead of basins, were at one time in 
common use, and some of those still in existence are 
supposed to date from the sixteenth century. Among these 
ancient specimens are boxes at Beckenham and at Blyth- 
borough. At Blickling, Norfolk, is a quaint box, shaped 
like a heart, and bearing the inscription " Pray Remember 
the Pore. 92." The date probably stands for 1592. The 
popular modern method of collection is by bags; these 
being subsequently placed in the large alms-dish for actual 
presentation. The Ritual Commission of 1870 proposed 
implicitly to recognise this usage by altering the rubric, so 
that the latter part should read, " — and reverently bring 
them to the Priest, who shall humbly present and place 
them upon the Holy Table in a decent bason to be 
provided for that purpose." 

In some districts special virtue is ascribed to the coins 
that have thus been offered to God upon His altar. A 
** sacrament shilling " is in many places considered an 
effective talisman for the cure of epilepsy. In Wales the 
method of procedure is simple ; a hint having been given as 
to the rcc(uirement, usually through some third person, a 


shilling from the alms offered at the Eucharist must be 
given, without direct solicitation, to the person afflicted, 
who must receive it without thanks. From this coin a silver 
ring is made, and worn day and night. As recently as 
1882 this charm was used at Efenechtyd, and also within 
the last few years at Rhosymedre. In Shropshire a rather 
more elaborate ceremonial has to be observed. Twelve 
pennies must be collected from twelve unmarried men if the 
patient be a woman, from the like number of maidens if it 
be a man ; and these are exchanged for the " sacrament 
shilling." The ring made from this coin may then be worn 
on the finger, or suspended about the neck ; some authori- 
ties say further that benefit will accrue if it be rubbed upon 
the eye. According to the custom of another locality in 
the same county, the sum needful is three shillings, which 
must be obtained in the above manner from three several 
churches, the donors meanwhile knowing nothing of the 
purpose to which the money is to be put. In Cornwall the 
same superstition obtains, but in that county thirty pennies 
must be subscribed by that number of persons of the 
opposite sex to that of the epileptic sufferer, who stands at 
the church door to receive them. In Herefordshire and 
Wiltshire the smaller coin, the shilling, is the one pre- 
scribed; and in the latter county application for one was 
made in 1874. In the Times of March 7th, 1854, is an 
account of the use of a similar charm in Devonshire ; and 
although the exchange for "Sacrament money" seems to 
have been omitted on that occasion, we may fairly suppose 
that the scene described was a survival of the usage of 
which we are writing. "A young woman, living in the 
neighbourhood of Halsworthy, North Devon," so runs the 


Times paragraph, *' having for some time past been subject 
to periodical fits of illness, endeavoured to effect a cure by 
attendance at the afternoon service at the parish church, 
accompanied by thirty young men, her near neighbours. 
Service over, she sat in the porch of the church, and each 
of the young men as they passed out in succession, dropped 
a penny into her lap ; but the last, instead of a penny, gave 
her half-a-crown, taking from her the twenty-nine pennies. 
With this half-crown in hand she walked three times round 
the communion-table, and afterwards had it made into a 
ring, by the wearing of which she believed she would 
recover her health." According to some authorities the 
ring for this curative purpose should be made by simply 
cutting the centre from the coin, and wearing the flat circle 
which is left. This superstition has been met with in 
comparatively recent times, besides in ihe districts already 
noticed, in the Forest of Dean, in North Yorkshire, and in 

In past times alms were collected, or at any rate church 
funds were used, for purposes which would now seem very 
strange. Among the most remarkable instances are some 
entries in the churchwardens' account for some Staffordshire 
parishes. At Wolverhampton, in the year 1555, we find 
an entry, among the items of expenditure, of " Charities to 
a gibbet beyond Bilston ; " and at S. Leonard's, Bilston, are 
two as follows : — 

** 1692. Kor setting up ye Gibbett, 2s. 6d." 
** 1 701. For repairing ye (iibbett, is. lod." 

A patent was issued by Charles I., dated 22nd September, 
1641, authorizing collections in various specified places 


for the repairing of Grimsby harbour. This document sets 
forth that the king has been informed that " the Towne of 
Great Grimsby is a haven Towne having a very commodious 
roade stead for the anchorage and relieving of Shipps uppon 
Stormes and contrary winds ; " but that " now our said 
Towne is fallen into great decay and poverty for want 
of trading and principally occasioned by the silting and 
warping upp of the Haven there, soe now a shipp of small 
burthen without great difficulty cannot come to the Towne 
bridge where a shipp of three or four hundred tons might 
formerly have floated." In consequence of this, authority is 
given to " the Maior and Burgesses of our borough of 
Great Grimsby aforesaid and their deputy and deputies the 
bearer or bearers hereof, ... to aske, gather, receive, and 
take the almes and charitable benevolence of all our loving 
subjects whatsoever inhabiting within our Citties of London 
and Westminster, the suburbs and libties of them both, and 
in our Counties of Lincolne, Yorke, Norfolke, Suffolke, 
Essex, Kent, Sussex, Surrey, and Middlesex : our Cities of 
Lincolne, Yorke, Norwich, Canterbury, Rochester, with the 
Cinque ports : our Citty of Chichester, and borough of 
Southwarke, the counties, lib'ties, and p'cincts of and within 
the same Citties, and in all Citties, townes corporate, 
privileged places, parishes, villages, and in all other places 
whatsoever within our said counties, and not elsewhere, for 
and towards the repair of their said haven, and to noe other 
use, interest, or purpose whatsoever." Owing probably to the 
dislocation of all things consequent upon the outbreak of the 
Civil War, no action seems to have been taken on the 
authority of this patent until after the Restoration ; in 1663, 
however, entries occur in several churchwardens' accounts 



showing that contributions were made towards the object 
here defined. 

Allusion has been made in a former chapter to the 
briefs or patents, such as the foregoing, which have since 
the Reformation been issued by the Crown, authorizing 
collections for various objects, just as before that time they 
were issued by the pope. The number of these was 
considerable, as is shown by notices of alms collected under 
their authority inserted in parochial records. To cite one 
instance; in the little parish of Hagworthingham, in 
Lincolnshire, between June, 1661, and July, 1667, or in the 
course qf six years, no less than sixty-three briefs were 
received and responded to. They came, therefore, almost 
once a month. The majority were for the repair of 
churches — for which, no doubt, there were unusually 
urgent and frequent calls at that time, immediately after the 
Puritan regimd of the Commonwealth — and for the relief of 
sufferers from fire. Some, however, are for other purposes. 
The brief on behalf of Grimsby Haven produced at 
Hagworthingham the sum of 2s. ; towards the repair of 
Thrapston Bridge, Northamptonshire, 3s. 2d. was contri- 
buted ; several sums were raised " for relief of poor visited 
people" in the plague year, 1665 ; and in some cases the 
name of the person or place assisted is entered alone, 
without further explanation. The experience of this parish 
may be taken as a sample of the rest, to which came appeals 
for help from far and near ; as they came to Hagworthingham 
not from its own county only, or from neighbouring ones, 
but from places as distant as Tynemouth, in Northumberland, 
and Milton Abbas in Dorset, from Pool in Montgomeryshire, 
and Cromer in Norfolk. 


The need for appealing to the charity of our congregations 
for these causes has in many cases passed away, the State 
having assumed the responsibility of preserving its bridges, 
harbours, gallows, and other such things. Happily, too, the 
necessity of collecting alms for such a cause as the following 
has ceased ; although the distresses of foreigners, as well as 
of fellow-citizens, are still frequently remembered. Under 
the date March, 1670, there is an entry in the accounts of 
Holy Cross, Westgate, Canterbury, recording a contribution 
of ;^2 7s. 4d. for "Redeeming the captives in Turkye." 

Doles, although they had their origin in the custom of 
distributing food to the poor at the time of a funeral, scarcely 
come within our scope, since they are as a rule distributed 
elsewhere than in the church. A certain number of them, 
however, were founded, usually by the last will of their 
donors, with the pious intention of promoting regular 
attendance at divine service ; and these are generally 
distributed at the conclusion of the chief service on Sunday 
morning. While admitting the good intentions of the 
donors of such charities, one cannot help questioning the 
soundness of their judgment, in thus offering the inducement 
of mercenary motives for the performance of a religious 
duty. Several London churches have ancient doles of this 
nature, a number of loaves of bread, or a certain sum of 
money, being distributed weekly among a given number of 
the aged poor who are present at church. It is a rare thing 
to find a new endowment of this kind ; one such is, 
however, recorded on a tablet in the parish church of 
S. Michael, Derby. We learn there that the late James 
Francis King left by will within very recent years the sum of 
;^i,ooo to the parish, the interest of which is partly to be 


expended in the purchase of twenty loaves of good bread, at 
sixpence each, to be given after the service each Sunday 
morning to as many poor parishioners ; the remainder of the 
income is to be devoted to keeping the church in good order 
and repair. It was ordained also by the will that the dole 
thus founded should bear the quaint name of "King's 

The parish of Paddington received a bequest long since 
from two maiden ladies, the proceeds of which were to be 
spent in bread, cheese, and beer, for the refreshment of the 
parishioners on the Sunday before Christmas Day. The 
bread used to be thrown from the steeple, and scrambled 
for in the churchyard ; and it is said that some portion of it 
was even so treated within the present century. Neither the 
manners of the people, nor their bread, were likely to be 
improved by the practice. 

The mortuary^ or legacy to the Church at the funeral of 
some person of note, can scarcely, perhaps, be called an 
instance of alms, since it was insisted upon as a right ; yet 
in its origin it was accounted such, since it was supposed to 
be in place of any tithes, or other obligations, which had 
been omitted during the life-time of the deceased. Several 
synods issued canons concerning these mortuaries, of which 
the following, forming one of the statutes of the see of 
Sodor, in 1 239, is among the most explicit : — " In mortuaries 
let the best animal be given to the Church, whether it be a 
cow, an ox, or a horse, if it be the value of six shillings or 
l(!ss ; also as far as relates to clothes, it shall be at the option 
of the Oluirch whether to receive the clothes or three 
shillings and sixpence : and if he be a poor man, and pay no 
mortuary, let the clothes be taken as they are, and also 


every fifth penny of his personal property, after the payment 
of his debts : when a man pays a mortuary, let the priest 
have his shoes and boots to the value of sixpence, and his 
hood, hat, or cap, which he used on Christmas Day : also 
let him have his shirt, girdle, purse, and knife, each to the 
value of one penny." The Constitutions of Giles de Brid- 
port. Bishop of Salisbury, dated 1256, do not make quite 
such large demands. " The parson or vicar, upon the death 
of any landowner, shall receive the next best of his cattle 
after that given to the feudal lord ; and if there should not 
be several cattle, the executors are bound to satisfy the 
parson from the goods of the deceased, before they 
administer his will." Among the grievances of which the 
House of Commons complained in 1530 were "the extreme 
exaction which the spiritual men used in taking corpse- 
presents or mortuaries." 

The making of these offerings, which was often done 
openly in the church at the funeral, led to some strange and 
striking scenes. The body of Hatfield, Bishop of Durham 
from 1345 to 1382, was borne to the choir door in the 
cathedral on a chariot drawn by five horses, which sub- 
sequently became the property of the abbey ; four horses 
drew the body of Longley, bishop of the same see from 
1406 to 1438 into the nave, these also forming a mortuary 
offering to the chapter. At the obsequies of King Henry 
v., his three war-horses were led up to the altar, and 
formally presented to the church. At the funeral of 
Prince Arthur, according to Leland's account, "Lord 
Garrard, the prince's man-at-arms, in the prince's own 
harness, on a courser richly trapped with velvet em- 
broidered with needlework, rode into the midst of the 


choir of Worcester, with a pole-axe in his hands, the 
point downwards, where the Abbot of Tewkesbury, the 
gospeller of that mass, received the offering of that horse." 
The war-horses thus presented to the peaceful occupants of 
cloisters and parsonages were usually afterwards redeemed 
by the donors for an equivalent number of sheep. Church 
hangings and vestments were made from the hearse-cloths 
and costly trappings. The great wax torches, given 
sometimes in great numbers on such occasions, as at 
Henry V.'s funeral, when a thousand of them blazed within 
the choir, were easily turned to the ordinary use of the 
church. The offering of mortuaries was abolished by 
Henry VHI. 

The gifts made at the shrines of famous saints within the 
cathedrals and abbeys of the country were often remarkable 
both in number and in value. The offerings in money at 
the shrine of S. Hugh at Lincoln reached in 1365 the sum 
of ;^37 14s. 8d., a large amount when we remember the 
difference in the purchasing power of money between the 
fourteenth century and our own.* But many gifts were 
made in kind. The head of S. Hugh, placed in a separate 
shrine, had a mitre of silver, and about the reliquary which 
contained it were rings set with precious stones, old gold 
coins, branches of coral, and other valuable offerings from 

* It will illustrate the practical value of this sum to compare with it 
the terms of a statute passed in 1414 (2 Henry V.), whereby it is 
ordained that ** No yearly chaplain shall take more for his whole wages 
by year (that is to say, for his board, apparel, and other necessaries) 
but VII. Marks." Taking the mark at its value of 13s. 4d., the 
chaplain's income would amount to £4 13s. 4d. Hence the offerings 
at S. Hugh's shrine were equal to the statutory income of eight 
chaplains ; they would probably be worth at least £7S^ i"^ modem 


the devout pilgrims. At Canterbury, the shrine of S. 
Thomas is described as " blazing with gold and jewels, and 
embossed with innumerable pearls, and jewels, and rings." 
Henry VIII., on visiting the shrine of Our Lady of 
Walsingham, gave a massive chain of gold for the adorn- 
ment of the statue ; and Erasmus tells us that that shrine 
looked like "the mansion of the saints, so much did it 
glitter with gold, jewels, and silver on all sides." These are 
but samples of the lavish way in which mediaeval English- 
men devoted their money and valuable possessions to the 
enrichment and adornment of the churches. So great was 
the accumulated wealth in many abbeys, that a special 
watch ing-chamber was erected within the church, whence 
continual watch could be kept over the treasures of the 
place by a succession of monks. 

With all their caution, however, the monks were not 
always able to defend the shrines from the depredations of 
villains, who ** feared not God nor regarded man ; " and 
then occasionally the saints put forth their wondrous 
powers, and themselves avenged the violation of their resting- 
places. Such a miracle once happened at Durham, as the 
chronicler Simeon tells us. It was in the days when 
Egelwine ruled the see (1056-107 1), that a noble pilgrim to 
the sacred relics of S. Cuthbert brought in his retinue a 
varlet, whose greedy heart recked more of gold than of 
godliness. The mass of money left by recent visitors at the 
shrine, and still lying in shining heaps upon it, set this 
man's eyes a-twinkling, and he longed to slip into his 
leathern pouch some of the silver pieces. Presently he 
drew near amid the throng, and saw the people all in turn 
stoop and kiss the cold marble beneath which lay the 


remains of so much saintliness. The Tempter, ever at the 
elbow of the children of men, even when they stand between 
the altar of God and the tombs of the Blessed, whispered in 
his ear to do likewise, and at the same time to help himself. 
Right humbly did the hypocrite bow him at the shrine, and 
long and fervently did he press his wicked lips to the 
marble ; but it was nothing but a Judas-kiss which he gave, 
for money, and not for devotion. Rising up, he turned to 
move away with four or five silver pennies, reft from the 
blessed S. Cuthbert, in his mouth ; and no one had noted 
aught of his evil deed. But presently that ill-gotten store of 
coins began to glow within his mouth, as if they were 
heating in a furnace ; fain would the wretch have slipt them 
into his wallet, nay gladly would he even, have spat them 
out upon the floor in the sight of all men ; for they grew 
ever hotter, and the torment was intolerable. But his jaws 
clave to each other, as if they had been locked ; and strive 
as he would, he could not open them. Thus was he driven 
to rush madly through the throng of wonder-stricken folk, 
waving on high his hands which clutched and snatched at 
the air, and groaning, like the ox that goes to the slaughter, 
with wild inarticulate bellowings. At last he betakes him 
again to the shrine, and flinging him down beside it, asks in 
his heart for the pardon of his crime, and for the tender 
pity of the blessed S. Cuthbert ; and lo ! his lips open, and 
forth therefrom roll out the coins ; and he is at once whole 
and well again. So mightily, if the chroniclers say sooth, 
can the saints defend their honour and the charitable 
offerings of their devout clients. 

In 1364 the casket containing the head of S. Hugh of 
Lincoln was stolen with its venerated contents. In this 


case also the thieves gained no advantage by their sacri- 
l^ous robbery, for they were discovered, convicted, and 

The offerings at shrines, and the thefts from them, have 
been terminated among us, not only by the suppression of 
pilgrimages, but by the wholesale ruin of the shrines them- 
selves, and the scattering of their precious contents. In 
face of the spirit of destruction let loose at the time of the 
Reformation, very few of the relics which the English 
Church possessed were left to her. At this distance of 
time we can afford to forgive those who sacril^ously bore 
away the gold and jewels of reliquaries, and turned them to 
their own base purposes. But the ruthless dismemberment 
of the bodies of the saintly dead, and the scattering of their 
bones upon the dunghills, was an act that could only be 
perpetrated by godless ruffians ; and one for which no pleas 
of former superstitious usage, no claim of good intentions, 
can be admitted for one moment as excuses or extenua- 

Westminster still has the relics of S. Eklward the 
Confessor, and Durham claims to possess those of S. 
Cuthbert, though the fact is disputed. His shrine and that 
of the Venerable Bede were demolished, the coffins were 
smashed open with a hammer, and an attempt was actually 
made to tear in pieces the uncorrupted body of the former ! 
Finally the relics were locked up in the vestry to await 
further orders ; and at a subsequent time were re-interred. 
It was long thought that Lincoln still had the body of S. 
Hugh, and a tomb was erected in the seventeenth century 
over his supposed resting-place ; but recently it has been 
found that no remains are there. At Salisbury are the 


relics of S. Osmund, at Canterbury those of S. Alphege, and 
at Ripon, probably, those of S. Wilfrid. The shrine of 
S. Thomas of Canterbury, and its famous contents could, of 
course, look for no mercy from King Henry VIII., and 
certainly got none ; for they recalled the life of an arch- 
bishop who had successfully resisted a king. The shrine of 
S. Alban, recently reconstructed from the fragments variously 
discovered during the restoration of the cathedral of S. 
Albans, only for a short time contained the genuine relics 
of the English proto-martyr. During the Danish incursions 
the monks, fearing for the safety of their treasures, exhumed 
the body and translated it to Ely ; and in quieter days the 
monks of Ely refused to return it. On this the brethren at 
S. Albans " discovered " another body, and declared that the 
Ely relics were not genuine, but that the real remains of S. 
Alban had been hidden, not translated. Whose were the 
bones dispersed at the Reformation, it is therefore impossible 
to say. The shrine is now, of course, a mere cenotaph. 

Doubtless there are, hidden away by pious hands, in many 
churches up and down the country the once-honoured relics 
of saints of old ; but their hiding-places have been forgotten. 
Within quite recent years the body of S. Eanswythe, the 
abbess and patroness of Folkestone, has been discovered 
within a leaden casket in the parish church of the town ; and 
it may be that yet others may be found elsewhere in the 
course of time. Within the crypt of S. Lawrence's Church, 
at Chorley, lie the remains of S. Lawrence. These were 
brought from Normandy in 1442 by Sir Rowland Standish, 
and placed by him where they still lie. Though no one can 
suppose them to be the genuine relics of the Roman deacon 
of the third century, they are probably those of one of the 


less known saints of the same name, of whom there are 
several The dismembered body of the best known 
S. Lawrence, with fragments of the grid-iron on which he 
suffered, of his dalmatic, and other relics of him, are 
preserved in several of the churches in the city of 



THUS have we endeavoured briefly, yet clearly, to trace 
the development of some usages in the Church, and 
to follow »ome portion of the history of her fabrics and their 
furniture ; and we have noted the fancies and superstitions, 
»omc merely r|uaint and innocent, some heathenish and 
degrading* which have sprung up in the course of the ages 
around her, or have continued as relics of the days that 
were before her, 

Time was when many of these legends and charms and 
folk cure* were something of party questions. When some, 
recognizing the sacredness of the things with which they had 
become no closely linked, were willing strenuously to defend 
the falHe for the sake of the true ; and others, disgusted by 
the low ideals of high things which these fancies seemed to 
involve, were ready to risk the true if they could but 
eradicate the false. Now we are able to look on all sides of 
thcHc nmttcrM with calmer eyes. We see nothing damnable 
in ringing bells, or playing organs, or in devout attitudes in 
divine service ; yet we do not feel that truth and righteousness 
. in any way demand that we should defend the mockeries of 
a boy-bishop's investiture, or the frivolity of ball-play in the 

Again, it is not so long since the majority of Englishmen, 
priding themselves — perhaps somewhat unduly — on their 


enlightenment and freedom from every taint of superstition, 
regarded all such matters as charms and talismans, the 
folk-lore fancies of days and things lucky and unlucky, and 
cognate ideas, as examples of childish imbecility, unworthy 
not only of credence, but even of attention from men of 
education. Here, too, the times have changed, and we with 
them ; for we have awakened to the fact that even the games 
of children may enshrine something of the past history of the 
race, and that childish fancies may teach us much of the 
mental habit of our forefathers, who lived when the world 
was young. 

But these tales of old, sometimes so wild and weird, 
acquire a new and living force if we realize that they are 
not after all characteristic exclusively of a type of mind, or 
of modes of thought, that are extinct. The mental condition 
which weaves legends and fashions mysterious wonders may 
be found to-day, when circumstances arise to call it into 
play. It is said that in Italy, full of the new life of 
nationality, and enamoured of the new light of constitutional 
and intellectual freedom — that under such improbable 
surroundings a perfect system of myths grew up about the 
personality of Garibaldi, even during his life-time. His 
famous crimson shirt was said to be dyed in the blood 
of his enemies; he himself was believed to be perfectly 
invulnerable; he was alleged to have satisfied the thirst 
of a parched and exhausted army, like a second Moses, 
by firing a cannon at a rock, and so producing streams 
of refreshing water ; and the storm which swept the district 
at his funeral was firmly believed to have been sent by the 
power of his enraged spirit, because his executors buried 
his body instead of cremating it, as he had wished. When 


such legends could spring up in the middle of the nineteenth 
century among a European peasantry, we need not wonder 
at the deification of the heathen heroes, nor treat the most 
marvellous of the tales of the mediaeval saints as the work of 
a people beneath our consideration. Obviously we must 
reckon this myth-making tendency as a permanent factor in 
human nature ; a factor which may lie dormant at times, and 
which does not reveal itself always in the same fashion, but 
one which may nevertheless be expected to prove its 
existence from time to time. 

One further consideration may arise in the mind of the 
Churchman as he glances over the ecclesiastical folk-lore 
of England. As the shadow proves the existence of the 
substance, as hypocrisy is said to show that even vice 
appreciates virtue ; so does superstition bear witness to the 
soundness of the Faith. It may be questioned whether 
there is any falsehood which is not in some way an imita- 
tion, a perversion, a sham of a truth ; and thus in the 
theories and fancies, wild and childish as they at first 
appear, of our traditional folk-lore, we see in most cases but 
distorted pictures of greater and more solid things. We 
may not now believe that disaster will follow immediately on 
a theft of flowers from a churchyard, that premature death 
awaits him who, even innocently, helps to pull down a part 
of a church, that walking round an altar or wearing a ring 
made from " a Sacrament shilling " will ensure bodily health. 
But we do believe that there is a special sanctity in the 
hallowed ground where lie the bodies of those who have 
fallen asleep in Christ ; we do believe that our churches are 
signs and types of that One, Holy, Catholic, Apostolic, 
Church, in which daily we profess our faith, which is the 


Mystic Body of the Divine Redeemer, and which is, in the 
startlingly strong words of S. Paul (Eph. i., 23), " the fulness 
of Him that filleth all in all." And we do believe that from 
the altar of God flows forth that "grace to help," which is 
given us through the Sacramental Presence of Him, who is 
the Saviour of the body as well as of the soul. 


I. — Subjects. II. — Places. 

Index I.— SUBJECTS. 

Abbey churches, the largest, 40 
Ace of spades, story of, 45 
Acrobats on steeples, 46 
AdytUy 203 

Affusion, Baptism by, 171 
Age for Baptism, 169 ; for Con- 
firmation, 175 
Agnes's, S., Day, 232 
Alban, S., shrine of, 250 
All Saints' Tower, Derby, 33, 46, 

50, 73 
All Souls' Day, 90 
Alms-dish, box, etc., 238 
Alms in the Prayer-book, 236 
Altar candles, 225 
Altar-rails, 228 
AmbOy 134 

Andrewes, Bishop, 228 
Angel Steeple, Canterbury, 50 
Animals, burial of, 81 
Anointing with oil in Baptism, 174 ; 

at Confirmation, 176 
Anliphonal singing, 218 
Antiquity of church sites, 1 1, 15 
** Apostolical Constitutions," 28, 

31, iii» 161 
Apse, use of, 28, 207 
Art in the early Church, 4, 5 
Articles found in graves, 81 
Artifices of preachers, 142 
Atrium, 52, 78 
Attendance at funerals, 94 
Augustine, S., quoted, 166 

Bachelors' Aisle, Yarmouth, 33 
Bags for alms, 238 
Ball playing in church, 213 
Bampton Lectures, 143 
Banks, the acrobat, 47 

Banns of marriage, 178 

Baptismal churches, 155 

Baptisteries, 154 

Barclay, Alexander, quoted, 109 

Barnabas' Day, S., 212 

Basin for alms, 238 

Battle of Neville's Cross, 48, 233 

Bay used at funerals, 88 

Bearers at funerals, 94 

Bearing-cloth, 164 

Beating the bounds, 213 

Beaumont and Fletcher, quoted, 

Becon on music, 219 
Bede, the Venerable, 2, 80, 249 ; 

his chair, 201 
Bema, 203 

Benches, 104 ; bench-ends, 105 
Bentley, Richard, 143 
Bequests to churches, 104, 114, 

115, 244 
" Best man," 188 
Betrothal ring, 190 
Beuno's mark, S. , 232 
Bible, the, in the Church, 152 
Biddenden Maids, the, 75 
Biers, 84 
Bishopping, 176 
Black Death, the, 33 
Blessing the font, 161 
Boils, cure for, 64 
Borlase, quoted, 14 
Bowing towards the altar, 227 
Boxes for alms, 238 
Boy-bishops, 214 
Boyle Lectures, 143 
Bradford, John, 105 
Breaking the ring, 196 
Bridal dress, 184 




Bride's maids, 187 ; mother, 188 

Briefs, 34, 241, 242 

Bristol Cathedral lectern, 150 

Bronze fonts, 155 

Browne, Sir Thomas, quoted, 56, 
63, 78, 80, 81, 88, 96, 97 

Browne, Wm., quoted, 189 

Buckinghamshire folk-lore, 20 

Buj^gancy the, 26 

Bulls, legends of, 22, 27 

Burial in churches, 78; in church- 
yards, 52, 78 ; on the north 
side of the church, 65, 79 ; 
in woollen, 92 

Butler, Samuel, quoted, 194 

Buying wives, 197 

Caistor gad- whip, 152 
Candlemas, 131, 211 
Canon law on marriage, 182 
Canons of the English Church, 

52, 127, 137, 139, 152, 168 
Canopies over fonts, 159 
Cantoris y 2l8 

Cap for use at Baptism, 166 
Capitula of Theodulph, 137, 139 
Captives, alms for release of, 243 
Carol Ewyn^ 220 
Carol singing, 39, 220 
Cartwright, Thomas, quoted, 195, 

Cartwright, William, quoted, 85 
CarvalSy 220 
Carvings on churches, curious, 

17, 24, 33, 34, 45, 209; on 

bench -ends, 105 ; on fonts, 


Casaubon, quoted, 120 

Cats, legends of, 20, 64 

Catafalque^ 91 

Cathedrals, largest in England, 40 

Cat tic -plague, hymn for, 223 

Celtic sacred places, 12 

Chancel, the, 204 

Chapelle ardent e^ 91 

Chapel Royal, S. James's, 234 ; 

Whitehall, 235 
Charles I., patent of, 240 
Chatterton's poems, 47 
Cheshire folk-lore, 67 

Chevy Chase, l^allad of, 232 

Childermas, 215 

Choir, the, 204 

Choral services, 218 

Choristers at Lichfield, 213 ; 

Ripon, 132 
Church likened to a ship, 28, loi 
Church-ales, 71 
Churches, burial in, 78 ; covered 

by sea, 37 ; by sand, 38 ; 

cruciform, 28 ; octagonal, 

28 ; wooden, 28 ; orientation 

of, 31 
Church -porch, marris^e in, 189 
Churchyards, circular, 12 ; cross 

in, 68, 74 ; north side of, 

.65, 79 

Chrisom, 165 

Chrisom-child, 166 

Christmas customs, 114, 130, 132 

Chrysostom, S. , 16 

Circular churchyards, 12 

Civil Wars, churches during the, 
50, 224 

Classic use of roses, 57 

Clipping the church, 71 

Clocks in church towers, 48 

Cock, legend of, 26 

Coffins, use of, 84 

Colours for bridal dress, 184, 185 

Columha, S., 22 

Confirmation, 174 

Consecration of water for Baptism, 
161, 163 

Constantine, S., 11, 28, 78 

Conversion of Northumbria, 2 

Cornish bench-ends, 105 ; folk- 
lore, 19, 21, 38, 44, 48, 57, 
59» 63, 76,97, 124, 169, 171, 
184, 225, 239 

Corpse-candles, 95 

Corpus Christi, 146 

Cosin, Bishop, 211 

Councils and Synods, Braga, 78 ; 
Carnot, 216; Cashel, 170; 
Cealchythe, 168, 170; Dur- 
ham, 158, 193; Exeter, 54, 
57, 104, 175 ; London, 167, 
168, 174, 178 ; Meaux, 155 ; 
Mentz, 167 ; Nantes, 78 ; 



Nice, 216 ; Oxford, 168 ; 
Scotland, 69, 167, 205 ; 
Toledo, 203 ; Westminster, 
174 ; York, 167 

Court uf Arches, ruling of, 127 

Covers for fonts, 158 

Cows, legends of, 29, 47 ; car- 
ving of, 17 ; superstition con- 
cerning, 58 

Cranmer, quoted, 160 

Cruciform churches, 28 

Crying at Baptism, 171 

Cup, bridal, 200 

Curious churches, 41 ; grave- 
stones, 98 ; steeples, 51 

Cuthbert, Archbishop, 52 

Cuthbert, S., 16, 247, 249, 

Cyprian, S., quoted, 161 

Dancing in church, 117 

David, S., 96 

Davenant, quoted, 194 

Deacons, 237 

Death tokens, 48, 83, 226 

Decani, 218 

Decorations at Christmas, 130 ; 
Whitsuntide, 132 ; S. Bar- 
nabas' Day, 132, 212 ; of 
graves, 90 

Deer, legend of, 21 

Dekker, quoted, 200 

Derbyshire folk-lore, 14 

De Rossi, quoted, 5 

Destruction of heathen temples, 
II ; of churches by fire, 35 

Devil, legends of, 21, 44 

Devil's door, 171 

Devonshire folk-lore, 21, 64, 83, 
125, 175, 225, 239 

Diabolic possession of churches, 

Dice in church, 226 

Divination by wells, 14 ; of 
various kinds, 124 ; penance 
for, 122 

Dog Noper^ 114 

Dogs in church, 109, 114 

Dog-whipper, 114 

Doles, 75, 243 

Donne, Dr., 89 

Donnellan Lectures, 143 

Dooms, 126 

Dorsetshire folk-lore, 76 

Doves, legend of, 2C 

Drayton, quoted, 85 

Dress at church, 113; ofbrides,i84 

Dropping the ring, 195 

Druidic regard for wells, 14 

Dryden, quoted, 92 

Duke of Northumberland's 

Maundy, 236 
Dunstan, S., 8 
Durandus, quoted, 79 
Durham folk-lore, 83, 99, 188, 

Dust from church floor, 124 
Dydd Degwm Wyn, 231 

Eagle lecterns, 149 
Eanswythe, S., relics of, 250 
Early Christian art, 45 
Earth to earth, 97 
Easter customs, 90, 114, 117, 213 
Edward the Confessor, S. , 29 
Edwin and Emma, ICX) 
Edwin, King of Northumbria, 2 
Endowed sermons, 143, 226 
Epilepsy, cure of, 124 
Epiphany, royal offerings at, 234 
Epitaphs, 99 
Erasmus, quoted, 247 
Essex folk-lore, 188 
Eucharist at weddings, 199 
Eusebius, quoted, 16, 204 
Eva, name of, 172 
Evagrius, 28 

Evidential value of m)rths, 254 
Excerptions of Egbert, 52, 137 
Exhumation, 97 

Fairchild sermon, 145 
Fairies, doings of, 20 
Fairs in churches, 116; in church- 
yards, 69 
Faldstool, 153 

** Falling over the Pulpit," 179 
Feasting in church, 1 17 
Fifeshire proverb, 125 
Fillets for Confirmation, 176 
Finan, S., 29 



Fire, destruction by, 35 ; at York, 
150; Insurance against, 35 

First burial in a churchyard, 
80 ; Baptism in new font, 

Fits, cure of, 225 

Flavel, Rev. Thos., 59 

Floors covered with rushes, 102 ; 
pea-straw, 103 ; grass, 104 

Flowering Sunday, 90 

Flowers at funerals, 83 ; at wed- 
dings, 189 

^^Yi legend of a, 26 

Font, material of, 155 ; shape of, 
1 56 ; cover for, 1 58 ; canopy 
over, 159 ; blessing of, 161 ; 
decoration of, 156 ; position 
of, 159 ; Puritan objections 
to, 159 

Fontinalta^ 14 

Forbidding the banns, 180 

Fortified church towers, 49 

Friday weddings, 184 

Funds for church building, 32 

Funerals, garlands at, 86 ; ser- 
mons at, 113, 147 ; of royal 
persons, 95 

Gad -whip, Caistor, 152 

Gallery, iii 

Games in churchyards, 69 

Garibaldi, myths concerning, 253 

Garlands, funeral, 86 

Gay, quoted, 63, 85, 87 

Gayer, Sir John, 144 

George, S., 126 

George II., funeral of, 95 ; III., 
anecdote of, 46 

Germoe, S., 76 

Ghosts, Dr. Johnson on, 3 

Gibbets, alms for, 240 

Gilds, 32, 115 

Gloucestershire folk-lore, 82 

Godparents, 166, 167 ; at Con- 
firmation, 175 

"God's Acre," 52 

Googe, Barnaby, quoted, 117, 130 

Grass of churchyard, 58 ; on 
church floor, 104 

Grave-merels, 83 
Graves, orientation of, 79 
Grave-stones, curious, 98 
Grazing the churchyard, 58 
Gregory the Great, S , quoted, 4, 

Green an unlucky colour, 184 
Gresham, Sir John, funeral of, 95 
Grindal's Injunctions, 103 
Growth of Church folk-lore, i 

Habingdon, quoted, 92 

Hair, how worn at weddings, 185 

Hall-dog pews, 109 

Hangings for the choir, 211 

Hare, legend of a, 21 

Hats worn in church, 108, 113 

Haunted churchyards, 58 

Hearne, the antiquary, 80 

Hearse, see Herse 

Heathen usages retained by the 
Church, 4, 5 ; temples des- 
troyed, II ; temples conse- 
crated, 4, 12 ; regard for 
wells, 13, 14, 15 

Helena, S., iii 

Hemp-seed as a charm, 62 

Henry V., funeral of, 95, 245 

Herefordshire folk-lore, 239 

Herrick, quoted, 191 

Herse, 91, 148, 246 

High pews, 107 

Holy Sepulchre, church of the, 28 

Holy wells, 13, 14, 15, 164 

Homilies, 139 

Honorius, 11 

Hood, Tom, alluded to, 62 

Hooker, quoted, 195, 197 

Hooper, quoted, 119 

Horses offered at the altar, 245 ; 
skulls of, found in church, 47 

Hour-glass in pulpits, 135 

Houselling-cloth, 229 

Howel Dha, 52 

Hugh, S., 246, 248, 249 

Hulsean Lectures, 143 

Human sacrifices-, 22, 81, 164 

Hunt, Holman, 128 

Huntingdonshire folk-lore, 226 

Hymns, 221 ; sung on steeples, 48 



Immersion, Baptism by, 170 
Impressing choristers, 217 
Ingulphus, 29 
Inscriptions on fonts, 157 
Insurance against fire, 35 {note) 
Interest of folk-lore, 252 
Irish folk-lore, 84, 196 
Italian churches, 31 

James I., story concerning, 142 
Jerome, S., quoted, 130 
John, King, and Pandulf, 31 
Johnson, Dr., quoted, 3 
Jonson, Ben, quoted, 91, 120, 173 
Jordan water used for Baptism, 163 
Judges' attendance at church, 116 

Kelly, the alchymist, 196 
Kent folk-lore, 75 
King, Bishop Oliver, 33 
King's sympathy, 244 
Kiss, the nuptial, 198 
Knights Templars, 30 

Laity in the chancel, 205 
Lammas Day, 231 
Lancashire folk-lore, 17, 20 
Land of the Lyonnesse, 38 
Land measures within the church, 

Land tenures, 89, 104, 114, 233 
Largest churches in -England, 40 
Latimer, quoted, 140 
Laud, Archbishop, 113, 117, 227, 

Law courts in churchyards, 70 
Lawrence, S., relics of, 250 
Lead fonts, 155 ; from church 

windows, 124 
Lectern, 149 
Lectures, 143, 144 
Left-handed Confirmation, 175 
Legends, meaning of, 7, 8 
Leicestershire folk-lore, 20, 97 
Lights in church, 211, 225, 246 
Lincolnshire folk-lore, 82, 152, 

Lion sermon, the,. 144 
Litany-desk, 153 
Loaf-mas";, 231 

Lofts, III 

Long-bows of yew, 54 
Longevity of yews, 56 
Longfellow, quoted, 52 
Long sermons, 135 
Lych-gates, 67 

Malkin, quoted, 69 

Mallet, referred to, 100 

Manx folk-lore, 25, 26, 27, 36, 

67, 84, 94, 98, 115, 122, 

123, 188, 220, 227 
Marriage in church porch, 189 ; 

in a sheet, 186 ; proverbs 

concerning, 183 
Markets in churchyards, 69, 70 
Mark's Eve, S., 59 
Marston, quoted, 199 
Marprelate tracts, 80 
Mary, Queen of Scots, 98 
Maundy gifts, 235 
May Day, 64 
May marriages, 184 
Mayors' attendance at church, 115 
Mediaeval preaching, 137, 139 
Memorial services, 148 
Mermaid, legend of a, 106 
Metal for wedding-ring, 193, 196 
Midnight mass, 221 
Midsummer Eve, 61, 62 
Mileto, Abbot, 4 
Military use of churches, 49, 50 
Milton, quoted, 13, 14, 66 
Minstrels, 223 ; gallery for, 224 
** Minstrel's pillar," 224 
Miracle plays, 70 
M iraculous intimation of sites, 1 7,20 
Misericordes, 208 
Mistletoe, use of, 131 
Mocking the Church, 180 
Money given at marriage, 197 
Montgomery, Jas., quoted, 61, 62 
Morocco, a performing horse, 47 
Mortuary offerings, 244 
Mottoes on dials, 77 
Movable pulpits, 134 
Moyer Lecture, the, 143 
Music at weddings, 188, 201 ; the 

Reformers on use of, 219 
Myths, growth of, 253 



Names, baptismal, 171 

Nave, meaning of, 102 

Neville's Cross, battle of, 48, 233 

Newton, Thos., quoted, 102 

Nicholas' Day, S., 215 

Ninian, S., 29 

Norfolk folk-lore, 44, 99, 125, 

North, a type of the Devil, 66 ; 

side of the churchyard, 65, 79 
Northamptonshire folk-lore, 97 
Northumbrian folk-lore, 64, 82, 

83, 201 ; conversion, 2 
Noteworthy steeples, 50 
Nottinghamshire folk-lore, 179, 

Number of sponsors, 167 
Nuptial kiss, 198 ; masses, 199 

Oblations of animals, 231, 232 
Octagonal churches, 28 ; fonts, 


Offering enemies, 233 

Offerings at shrines, 32, 245 

Offertory, meaning of, 237 

Offrwm Gelyn, 233 

Organs, 219, 220, 224 

Oie'l Verrey, 220 

Old S. Paul's Cathedral, 46, 48, 

89, 119, 120, 142,211, 233 
Orange blossom, 185 
Orchestra, parish, 223 
Orientation of churches, 31 ; of 

graves, 79 
Oswald, S., 21, 24 
Overbury, Sir Thos., quoted, 84 
Oxfordshire folk-lore, 21, 25, 75 

Painted windows, 126 
Paintings in churches, 126 
Pallium (Archbishop's), 233 ; 

nuptial, 185 
Palm Sunday customs, 55, 74, 90 
Parents as sponsors, 166, 168 
Parish churches, the largest, 40 ; 

clerks, 222 ; coffins, 84 ; 

stocks, 74 
Parker, Archbishop, quoted, 160 
Paschal Candle, 211 
Patents, or briefs, 241, 242 

Patrick, S., 22, 31 

Paul's, S., Cathedral, 12, 40, 46, 
119, 120, 128, 143, 238 (see 
also Old S. PauPs) ; Cross, 
74; School, 214; Walk, 119 

Paulinus, S., 2 ; of Nola, 16, 130, 
204, 221 

Pea-straw for church floors, 103 

Peckham's Constitutions, 138 

Pelican lecterns, 151 

Penance, public, 75, 121 

Penitential of Egbert, 167 

Pennant, quoted, 164 

Pepys, quoted, 89 

Perthshire folk-lore, 180, 220 

Peter's chains, S., 231 

Petting -stone, 201 

Pews, 105 

Pigs, legends of, 20, 24, 25 

Pilkington, quoted, 46, 48 

** Places where they sing," 206 

Playing at ball in church, 213 

Pope, Alexander, quoted, 93 

Posies, 191 

Position of font, 159 

Posy -rings, 191 

Praise-God Barbones, 173 

Preaching crosses, 74 

Presbytery, 203 

Private pews, 109 

Probus, S. , 44 

Proclamation of Henry VIII., 216 

Prosper of Aquitaine, 12 

Public Penance, 75, 121 

Pulling down churches unlucky, 

Pulpitres^ 134 

Puipitunif 134 

Puritan objections to art, 126 ; 
fonts, 159 ; funeral sermons, 
147 ; liturgy, 107 ; music, 219 ; 
wedding-ring, 194 

Puritanical names, 173 ; sermons, 

Qualifications of sponsors, 168 

Ravens, superstition concerning, 36 
Redeeming captives, 243 
Regard for holy sites, 36 



Relics in English churches, 249 

Religion and the people, 89 

Removal of churches, 20 

Restoration of Bath Abbey, 33 

Ring-finger, 192 

Rings, wedding, 190 

Rites of Durham, 17 

** Roaring Bull o* Bagbury," 27 

Robin Hood, story of, 33 

Rood-screens, 204 

Rosemary at funerals, 85 ; at 
weddings, 146 

Roses in churchyards, 57 

Round churches, 28, 29 

Rowe, quoted, 189 

Royal arms, 129 ; Epiphany off- 
erings, 234 ; Maundy gifts, 
235 ; names, 172 ; prebend, 

Ruined churches, services in, 39 

Rush -bearing, 102 

Rushes for church floors, 102, 189 

Rush rings, 193 

Ruskin on legends, 7 

Sacrament money, 124, 238 ; 

wine, 225 
Sacrarium, 203 
Sacred sites of Paganism, 23, 24, 

Sand, churches covered by, 38 
Scaffold, a gallery, iii 
Scandinavian legends, 25 
Scottish churches, 15 ; folk-lore, 

184, 220 
Scriptural names, 171 
Sea, advance of, on coast, 37 
Seasons for Baptism, 160, 162 ; 

for matrimony, 182 
Seats in church, 104 
Secular uses of churchyards, 68 
Separation of sexes in church, 1 1 1 
Sepulchre's, S., churches, 30 
Sermons at funerals, 113; at 
weddings, 146, 147 ; Lati- 
mer's, 140 
Seward, Miss, quoted, 87 
Sexes divided in church, 11 1 
Shakespeare, quoted, 54, 56, 58, 
59, 66, 73, 79, 83, 84, 85, 

87, 88, 91, 94, 96, 97, 120, 
165, 166, 173, 183, 185, 191, 

194, 199, 200, 201 
Sheet, marriage in a, 186 
Shrines, famous, 246 ; offerings 

at, 32, 246 
Ship, an emblem of the Church, 

28, lOI 
Shropshire folk-lore, 21, 23, 27, 

37, 48, 63, 67, 68, 69, 90, 

116, 117, 132, 169, 171, 181, 

195, 239 
Shrovetide customs, 71 
Sibrit, 179 

Silver font, 155 

Simeon, Stylites, S., 28 

Singing hymns on church towers, 

48, 49 
Sites, regard for, sacred, 36 ; 

miraculously indicated, 16, 

17, 20 
Smallest church in England, 40 
Socrates, the historian, 16, 11 1 
Somersetshire folk-lore, 33, 34, 

Speght, quoted, 73 
Sponsors, 166 
Sprinkling in Baptism, 171 
Sputrings^ 179 
Staffordshire folk-lore, 14, 20, 59, 

98, 132, 169, 240 
Stalls, 207 
Standards of measurement in 

church, 120, 126 
State attendances, 115 
Statues in churches, 126 
Steeples, use of, 43 ; fortified, 

49 ; famous, 50 
Sternhold and EEopkins, 221 
Stichild's penance, 121 
Still-born infants, 83 
Stocks, parish, 74 
Stone seats, 104 
Strange names, 173 
Straw for church floors, 103 
Stubs, quoted, 72, 105 
Substitutes for palms, 55 
Suffolk folk-lore, 188 
Sunday funerals, 82 ; weather, 

125 ; weddings, 183 



Sun-dials, 76 
Sun worship, relics of, 96 
Surname of bride, 199 
Surpliced choiis, 206 
Sussex folk-lore, 21 
Swithin, S., legend of, 79 
Synod, see Council. 

Taleih, the, 185 

Talismans from churchyards, 63 

Tate and Brady, 222 

Taylor, Jeremy, quoted, 166 

Taylor, the Water Poet, quoted, 

Temple Church, 3c 

Temples, Pagan, consecrated, 4, 

12 ; destroyed, 1 1 
TertuUian, quoted, 16, 190 
Thefts from shrines, 247 ; from 

churchyards, 57 
Theodosius, 11 
Thomas, name oif, 172 
Thornhill, Sir Jas., 128 
Thoroughfares in churches, 119 
Thorpe, Wm., on music, 220 
** Three-decker" pulpits, 136 
Thursday weddings, 183 
Thusiasterion, 203 
Toothache, cure for, 63 
Torches at funerals, 95 
Towers, the Devil's dislike to, 44 ; 

use of, 43 ; fortified, 49 ; 

famous, 50 
Trees in churchyards, 53 ; within 

churches, 133 
Trine immersion, 170 
Twin churches, 39 
Tyndale, Wm., quoted, 160, 176, 


Unction at Baptism, 174; at Con- 
firmation, 176 
Unlawful seasons for marriage, 182 

Valentin ian, 11 
Valentine's, S., Eve, 63 
Veil, bridal, 185 
Venif Creator J 221 

Virgin's funeral garlands, 86 
Volowing, 176 

Wakes, 68 ; at Shrewsbury, 39 
Waldron, quoted, 188 
Warburtonian Lecture, 143 
Water, uses of in the early Church, 

Wearing hats in church, 108, 113 
Weather-lore, 79, 83, 125 
Wedding-ring, 190; sermons, 146 ; 

folk-lore, 48, 67 
Wells, Pagan regard for, 13, 14, 15 
Welsh churchyards, 12, 15 ; folk- 
lore, 19, 20, 25, 27, 57, 65, 
69, 88, 90, 95, 96, 125, 164, 
221, 232, 233, 238 
Westminster Abbey, 29, 95 
West side of church, burial on, 79 
Wheatley, quoted, 193 
Whip-dog Day, 214 
Whips for dogs, 1 14 
White, Gilbert, quoted, 53, 65. 

86, 108 
Whitsuntide customs, 90, 132 
Whooping-cough, cure for, 63 
Widows at weddings, 188 
Wife-capture, 188 
William of Perth, S., 32 
Witchcraft, 20, 64, 121, 125 
Wilfrid, S., 32 
Wiltshire folk-lore, 239 
Wilson, Bishop, quoted, 123 
Windows, painted, 126 
Wood, Anthony, quoted, 127, 196 
Wooden churches, 28 ; pulpits, 

135; fonts, 155 
Woollen, burial in, 92 
Worcestershire folk-lore, 70 
Wordsworth, quoted, 184 
Worship, meaning of, 197 
Written sermons, 138 

Yews in churchyards, 53 
York Fabric Rolls, quoted, 70 
Yorkshire holy wells, 15 ; folk- 
lore, 24, 48, 82, 96, 117, 164, 
190, 214, 223, 240 



Index II.— PLACES. 

Note. — In the following Index the names of places beginning 
with Saint, as S. Albans, are placed under the letter S ; names 
having a distinguishing adjective, as Little Maplestead, are ranged 
under the initial of the first word in each case. 

Abbey Dore, 41 

Abbott's Ann, 88 

Abingdon, 42, 145 

Acaster Malbis, 129 

Acton Burwell, 88 

Albrighton, 40 

Aldborough, 37 

Aldingham, 77 

Alford (Lincolnshire), 82 

Alfreton, 88 

Alfriston, 21, 29 

Altarnun, 21, 106 

Ambleside, 103 

Antioch, 28 

Ashburton, 55 

Ashby Folville, 156 

Ashford-on- the- Water, 88 

Ashill, 56 

Ash ton- under- Lyne, 45, 186 

Astley Abbots, 88 

Athens, 51 

Auburn, 37 

Aveley, 109 

Bagbury, 27 
Bakewell, 88 
Baldwin, 36 
Ballaugh, 122 
Bangor, 20 

Barford S. Michael's, 75 
Barnard Castle, 94 
Barnes, 57 

Barnetby-le-Wold, 155 
Barthomley, 67 
Baschurch, 21, 48 
Baslow, 114 
Bath, 33 

Beaconsfield, 108 
Beckenham, 67, 238 
Bedale, 49 
Bemerton, 40 
Bernard's Mount, 18 
Berrington, 118 

Berwick-on-Tweed, 42 

BettwsGwerfil-Ooch, 12 

Beverley, 40, 209, 210, 224 

Biddenden, 75 

Bilston, 132, 240 

Birmingham, 71 

Bisley, 15 

Bittersley, 164 

Blackpool, 37 

Blickling, 238 

Blyth, 126 

Blythborough, 238 

Bologna, 31 

Boston, 50, 209, 210 

Bottesford, 104 

Bovey-Tracey, 81 

Bowes, 99 

Bradford-on-Avon, 41, 71 

Bradley, 157 

Braga, 78 

Braunton, 21 

Breedon, 20, 23 

Breedon-on-the-Hill, 109 

Brent Tor, 21 

Bristol, 47, 116, 131, 150, 151, 

209, 210 
Broughton, 21, 152 
Bryn-y-Hynnon, 19 
Burgh-on-the-Sands, 49 
Burnham Deepdale, 157 
Burnsall, 67 
Burrough, 157 
Burstall; 37 
Bury S. Edmunds, 29, 233 

Caistor, 84, 85, 152 
Calverley, 114 

Cambridge, 30, 135, 140, 143 
Canterbury, 50, 65, 119, 149, 

156, 161, 207, 219, 227, 241, 

243, 247, 250 
Capel Garmon, 21, 23 
Carnot, 216 




Cartmel, 17, 51,210 

Cashel, 22. 170 

Castle Acre, 158 

Caetleford, 130 

Castle Morton, 133 

Caxtoii, 105 

Cerrig-y-druidion, 12, 25 

Chaddesden, 73 

Charlcombe, 41 

Chester, 35, 210, 213 

Chestertield, 51 

Chester-le-Street, 16 

Chichefcter, 50, 116, 210, 224, 241 

Chiltern All Saints, 186 

Chinnor, 128 

Chorlev. 250 

Christel, 114 

Cilcenin, 12 

Cleveland, 82 

CI ewer, 155 

Clungunford, 117 

Clynnog Fawr, 114, 232 

C'Oates, 41 

Coleshill, 156 

Cologne, 31 

Constantinople, 28, 51 

Cor wen, 21 

Coventry, 40 

Cromer, 242 

Crosmere, 37 

Cross Canonby, 157 

Crowan, 225 

Crowle, 74, 77, 224 

Croyland, 29, 209 

Culbone, 41 

Darley, 56 
Darlington, 210 
Deerhurst, 156 
Dereham, 156 
Deptford, 104 
Derby, 33, 46, 50, 73, 243 
Derwen, 12 
Devonport, 83 
Don caster, 51 
Donington, 15, 40 
Dorchester, 155 
Douglas, 36 
Dover, 3U 
Dublin, 135, 143 

Dulwicb, 157 

Dunsby, 157 

Dunwicb, 38 

Durham, 16, 29, 39, 47, 48, 98, 
112, 114, 116, 119, 121, 122, 
151, 193.205,211,212, 227, 
233, 245, 247, 249 

Easby, 109 

Easingwold, 84 

East Dereham, 15 

East Halton, 114 

Eastville, 31 

East Wretham, 158 

Ecclesfield, 114 

Edgmond, 71 

Edmonton, 83 

Efenechtyd, 12, 155, 239 

EUesmere, 71 

Elsdon, 47 

Ely, 35, 50. 116,210,250 

Exeter, 54, 57, 104, 116, 121, 

175, 210, 224 
Eyam, 87 

Farndish, 41 
Farndop, 90 
Farringdon, 86 
Fenton, 4) 
Finchale, 39 
Fincham, 157 
Finedon, 105 
Fisherty Brow, 36 
Fishlake, 60 
Folkestone, 250 
Ford, 61 
Fountains, 56 
Frampton, 181 
Frampton-on-Sevem, 155 
Fulbourne, 135 

Garstang, 76 
Geddington, 105 
(iedney, 186 
Geneu'r Glyn, 19 
Glastonbury, 29 
Gloucester, 210, 216 
Goosnargh, 77 
C^orton Green, 186 
Gosport, 89 



Great OrimBby, 241, 242 
Great Toller, 157 
GreenBtead, 28 
Guenisey, 155 
Gwithian, 38 

Haddon, 148 
Hadstock, 35 
Hagworthinghaxxi, 242 
Halifax, 158 
Haleworthy, 239 
Hambleton, 76 
Hanchurch, 20 
Hanwood, 88 
HappiBbargh, 156 
Harlington, 56 
Harlow, 157 
Heanor, 88 
Heapy, 76 
Hedon, 51 
Helmsley, 70 
HenBall, 229 
Hepworth, 158 
Hereford, 74, 112, 210 
Heton, 215 
Hexham, 111 
Hinghaxn, 157 
HouqbIow, 56 
Hoxton, 145 
Hundon, 152 
Hurstpierpoint, 226 
Huttoft, 157 
Hyde, 215 {note) 
HyfisingtoQ, 27 

lona, 22 
Ippwich, 38 
Isle of Wight, 41 

Jarrow, 201 
Jernsalem, 51, 158 
JeBmond, 15 

Kempsey, 133 
Kentcheeter, 157 
Kentford, 35 
Kerry, 12 
Kilpimal, 37 
KilKenny, 135 
KilnBea, 37 

Kilpeck, 41 
Kirk bum, 156 
Kirkby Lousdale, 36 
Kirk Malew, 123 
Kirk Michael, 122 
ELirtoD-iD-LindBey, 228 

Laceby, 61 

Lamesley, 93 

Laugley Marsh, 105 

Laon, 31 

LauncellB, 106 

Lavenham, 105 

Leamington Priory, 229 

Leeds, 135 

Leicsester, 157 

Lew Trenchard, 105 

Leyland, 30 

Lezayre, 123 

Lichfield, 15,50, 91, 213 

Lincoln, 50, 149, 204, 205, 210, 
227, 241, 246, 248, 249 

Lindisfame, 29 

Little Dunkeld, 15 

Little Maplestead, 30 

Little NeBB, 88 

Liverpool, 74 

Llanarmon, 12 

Llandegla, 15 

Llandysylo, 26, 173 

Llandymog, 12 

Llan Elidan, 12 

Llanfair Dyffryn Clwyd, 20 

Llanfechain, 12 

Llanfor, 25 

Llangar, 19 

Llan-garw-gwyn, 19 

LlanUechid, 20, 23 

Llanynys, 114 

London, 12, 30, 35, 40, 55, 84, 
103, 115, 128, 135, 140, 142, 
143, 157, 161, 164, 167, 168, 
174, 178, 187, 212, 238, 241, 

Long Melford, 105 

Louth, 51 

Ludlow, 15, 32, 50 

Lullington, 40 

Luton, 159 

Lutterworth, 126, 135 



Lydford, 124 
Lynn, 149, 156 

Mablethorpe S. Peter, 37 
Madeley, 67 
Madron, 75 
Maestricht, 208 
MalmeHbury. 29 
Malta, 113 

Manchester, 76, 126, 210 
Manghold, 98 
Marr, 130 
Matlock, 88 
Meaux, 155 
Melsonby, 49 
Melton, 157 
Melton Mowbray, 157 
Mentz, 167 
Metz, 31 
Middled am, 49 
Milton Abbas, 242 
Mitton, 156 
Monksilver, 34 
Moulton, 127 
Mullion, 106 
Musselburgh, 15 

Nantes, 78 

Nantwich, 209 

Nazianzum, 28 

Nettlecombe, 105, 156 

Newburn-on-Tyne, 93 

NewcEUiitle-onTyne, 15, 50, 122 

Newington, 156 

Newstead, 150 

Newton (Cumberland), 49 

Nice, 216 

Northampton, 30 

Northorpe, 109 

Norton, 182 

Norton (Staffs.), 89 
Norwich, 74, 103, 115, 119, 135, 
149, 156, 159, 207, 238, 241 

Ockley, 57 
Old Weston, 103 
Orford, 158 
Ormskirk, 45 
Osmotherley, 223 
Oswestry, 196 

Otlev, 186 
Ottery S. Mary, 50 
Out S'ewton, 37 
Owthorne, 37 

Oxford, 35. 75. 128, 143, 149, 
156, 165, 168, 173, 176, 227 

Paddington, 244 
Padstow, 38 
Par ham, 155 
Paris, 31, 76 
Patrington, 156 
Pavenham, 104 
Payerne, 102 
Penkridge, 210 
Penzance, 124 
Perranzabuloe, 38 
Pershore, 70 
Plumpstead Magna, 155 
Plympton S. Mary, 21 
Pontefract, 41, 50 
Pool, 242 
Poughill, 106 
Powderham, 50 
Prestwich, 45 
Probus, 44 
Pulpit, 19 
Puxton, 120 

Raby, 233 

Ravenspur, 37 

Reading, 126, 211 

Reculver, 38 

Redcliffe, 47 

Ripon, 16, 32, 91, 132, 209, 210, 

Rochdale, 21, 23 
Rochester, 32, 241 
Rome, 31, 51, 102, 232, 250 
Ross, 133 
Ruabon, 173 
Rudstone, 24 

Sabul, 31 

Salamanca, 31 

S. Albans, 135, 250 

Salisbury, 46, 50, 119, 149, 161, 

214, 215, 249 
Salkeld, 49 
S. Anthony, 110, 157 



S. Blazey, 225 

S. Budeaux, 50 

Scarborough, 61 

Scilly, 113 

S. David's, 114, 206 

S. Dennis, 76 

Selborno, 86, 108 

Selham, 41 

S. Enodock, 38 

S. Ewe, 51 

S. Germans, 229 

S. Germoe, 76 

Shaw (Lanes.), 76 

Shaw (Staffs. ), 89 

SheUesley, 105 

Sheppey, Isle of, 69 

Sherborne, 210 

Shrawardine, 88 

Shrewsbury, 39, 46, 70, 87, 91 

S. Ives, 226 

S. Just-in Penwith, 125 

Skirbeck, 180 

Skyv'ogr, 96 

S. Levan, 39 

S. Mary Overy, 215 

Southampton, 89, 113 

South Leigh, 126 

Southwark, 241 

Southwell, 150 

Stafiford, 157 

Staindrop, 81 

Stamford, 51 

Stamford Bridge, 70 

Stamford-in-the-Vale, 114 

Stanhope, 87 

Stoke S. Milborough, 15, 69 

Stoke-upon-Tern, 21, 68 

Stonehenge, 12 

Stopham, 41 

Stratford-on-Avon, 126 

Strathfillan, 15 

Stratton, 106 

Streatham, 135 

S. Trinian, 26 

Swaffham Prior, 40 

Talland, 19, 105 
Tansfield, 91 
Taunton, 50 
Tavistock, 114 

Tettenhall, 98 
Tewkesbury, 40 
Thornton (Dorset), 76 
Thrapston, 242 
Tiddcnham, 155 
Tiverton, 50 
Tonge, 89 
Towednack, 44 
Townstall, 50 
Tremeirchion, 12 
Treves, 31 
Trimley, 40 
Trull, 106 
TrysuU, 114 
Tunstall, 37 
Twyford, 156 
Tynemouth, 242 

Udimore, 21 

Very an, 48 

Waldron, 21 

Walsall, 20 

Walsh, 105 

Walsingham, 247 

Walsoken, 156 

Walton-on-the-Hill, 74, 165 

Wareham, 155 

Warlingworth, 157 

Watchet, 15 

Waterford, 152 

Well, 31 

Wellcombe, 171 

Wellingborough, 209 

Wellington, 71 

Wellow, 179 

Wells, 120, 149, 210, 224 

Wem, 116 

Wendover, 20 

Wenlock, 15 

Wensley, 109 

Westmeon, 35 

Westminster, 29, 95, 103, 126, 

137, 174, 209, 211, 233, 238, 

241 249 
West Walton, 44 
Whaplode, 133 
Whitburn, 200 
Whitehaven, 187 



Whitherae, 29 
Wickbampton, 99 
Widdicombe, 110 
Wilne, 158 
Wilfidon, 200 
Wimborne, 152, 210, 229 
Winchester, 79, HI, 149, 156, 

Windsor, 227 
Wingfield, 88 
Winsteriey, 88 
Winwick, 20, 24 
Withernsea, 37 
Witney, 35, 93 
Woldingbam, 41 

Wolsingham, 87 
Wolverhampton, 115, 240 
Woodbury, 55 
Woodplumpton, 76 
Worcester, 74, 99, 119, 227, 246 
Wortield, 21 
Worsted, 111, 156, 158 
Wrexham, 19, 50 

Yarmouth, 33, 38, 40 
York, 40, 50. 70, 149, 150, 158, 
167, 204, 214, 224, 231, 241 
Youghal, 84 

Zennor, 106 




William Andrews & Co., 


ic Dress of the Clergy. 


Antbot uf "The Cross in Ritual, Architecture, and ArL'* 

Orownt doth exfra, Sb, 6d. 

'Vtie work contains thirty-three illustrations from ancient 
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Cross in Ritual, Architecture, and Art' His bUDJect, chosen widely and 
carried out comprehensively, makes this & valuable book of reference for 
all classes. It is only the antiquary and the ecclesiologist who can devote 
time and talents to research of this kind, and Mr. Tyack has done a real 
and lasting service to the Church of England by collecting so much useful 
and reliable information upon the dress of the clergy in all ages, and offering 
it to the public in such a popular form. We do not hesitate to recommend 
this volume as the most reliable and the most comprehensive illustrated 
guide to the history and origin of the canonical vestments and other dress 
worn by the clergy, whether ecclesiastical, academical, or general, while 
the excellent work in typography and binding make it a beautiful gift- 
book."— CA«rM Bells, 


A very lucid history ot ecclesiastical vestments from Levitical times to 
Che present day."— /W/ Mall Gauttt. 

**The book can be recommended to tbe undoubtedly large class of 
persons who are seeking information on this and kindred subjects." — Tlu 

"The work may be read either as pastime or tor instruction, and is 
worthy of a place in the permanent section ot any library. The numerous 
Ulustratiouo, extensive contents table and index, and l)eautifu) workmanship, 
tx>th in typo^rraphy and binding, aic aU features of attraction and utility." 
— DuHiitt Au\f€rtUor, 

The Miracle Play in England, 

An Account of the Early Religioas DimnuL 

By SIDNEY W. CLARKE, Barrister-at-Law. 

OroiMi 8vo.t St. €d. lUunrated, 

In bygone times the Miracle Play formed an important 
feature in the religious life of England. To those taking an 
interest in the history of the Church of England, this volume 
will prove useful. The author has given long and careful 
study to this subject, and produced a reliable and readable 
book, which can hardly fail to interest and instruct the reader. 
It is a volume for general reading, and for a permanent place 
in the reference library. 

Contents :— The Origin of Drama— The Beginnings of English Dimma 
—The York Plays— The Wakefield Plays— The Chester Plays— The 
Coventry Plays — Other English Miracle Plays — ^The Production of a 
Miracle Play — The Scenery, Properties, and Dresses — Appendix — ^The 
Order of the York Plays — Extract from City Register of York, 1426 — 
The Order of the Wakefield Plays— The Order of the Chester Plays— 
The Order of the Grey Friars' Plays at Coventry— A Miracle Play in a 
Pappet Show— Index. 

*' Mr. Clarke has chosen a most interesting subject, one that is 
attractive alike to the student, the historian, and the general reader 
.... A most interesting volume, and a number of quaint iliustratioiis 
add to its value." — Birmingham Daily GautU, 

*'Tbe book should be useful to many." — Manckestir Guetrdian, 

"An admirable work." — Easttm Morning Niws. 

"Mr. Sidney Clarke's concise monograph in 'The Miracle Play in 
England ' is another of the long and interesting series of antiquarian 
volumes for popular reading issu^ by the same publishing house. The 
author briefly sketches the rise and growth of the ' Miracle or ' Mystery' 
play in Europe and in England ; and gives an account of the series or 
cycle of these curious religious dramas — the forerunners of the modem 
secular play — performed at York, Wakefield, Chester, Coventry, and 
other towns in the middle ages. But his chief efforts are devoted to 
giving a sketch of the manner of production, and the scenery, properties, 
and dresses of the old miracle play, as drawn from the minute account 
books of the craft and trade guilds and other authentic records of the 
period. Mr. Clarke has gone to the best sources for his information, 
and the volume, illustrated by quaint cuts, is an excellent compendium 
of information on a curious byeway of literature and art." — Thi 

Ecclesiastical Curiosities. 

Demy 8uo., Cloth gilt, 7s. 6d, Numerous lliuatrationa. 

Contents: — The Church Door — Sacrificial Foundations — 
The Building of the English Cathedrals — Ye Chapell of Oure 
Ladye — Some Famous Spires — The Five of Spades and the 
Church of Ashton-under-Lyne — Bells and their Messages — 
Stories about Bells — Concerning Font-Lore — Watching Cham- 
bers in Churches — Church Chests — An Antiquarian Problem : 
The Leper Window — Mazes — Churchyard Superstitions — 
Curious Announcements in the Church — Big Bones Preserved 
in Churches — Samuel Pepys at Church — Index. 

"An interesting and engrossing volume.'* — Church Bells. 

"It consists of studies by various writers in the history, 
customs, and folk-lore of the Church of England. Whilst it 
will appeal most strongly to those who are given to antiquarian 
and ecclesiological inquiry, it contains much that should prove 
of interest to any intelligent reader. The various contributions 
give evidence of diligent and discriminating research, and 
embody much old-world lore that is curious and instructive." — 
Aberdeen Free Press, 

"Will instruct and amuse all readers." — The News^ edited 
by the Rev. Charles Bullock. 

" To every lover of antiquities, to every student of history, 
and to every member of the Church, such a book as this is a 
boon. The chapters are attractively written in thoroughly 
popular form, yet at the same time the reader is acquiring 
knowledge which can seldom be obtained without research or 
consulting the massive treatises of antiquaries. The publication 
of the series of works on Church lore is consequently of much 
benefit, and it calls for thanks and appreciation." — Birmingham 
Daily Gazette. 

" The subject is a fascinating one, and Mr. Andrews has got 
together a capital team of contributors. The result is a volume 
not of dry archaeology, but of living interest, even though it 
deals with bygone times. Altogether a most readable book." — 
Sheffield Daily Telegraph. 

The Church Treasury of History, Custom, 

Folk-Lore, etc. 


Demy Svo,., js. 6d» Numerous Illustrations* 

Contents :— Stave-Kirks — Curious Churches of Cornwall — Holy 
Wells— Hermits and Hermit Cells— Church Wakes— Fortified Church 
Towers — The Knight Templars : their Churches and their Privileges — 
English Mediaeval Pilgrimages — Pilgrims' Signs — Human Skin on Church 
Doors — Animals of the Church in Wood, Stone, and Bronze — Queries in 
Stones — Pictures in Churches — Flowers and the Rites of the Church — 
Ghost Layers and Ghost Laying — Church Walks — Westminster Wax- 
works — Index. Numerous Illustrations. 

"It is a work that will prove interesting to the clergy and churchmen 
generally, and to all others who have an antiquarian turn of mind, or like 
to be regaled occasionally by reading old-world customs and anecdotes." — 
Church Family Newspaper, 

" Mr. Andrews has given us some excellent volumes of Church lore, but 
none quite so good as this. The subjects are well chosen. They are 
treated brightly and with considerable detail, and they are well illustrated. 

Mr. Andrews is himself responsible for some of the most 

interesting papers, but all his helpers have caught his own spirit, and the 
result is a volume full of information well and pleasantly put." — London 
Quarterly Review, 

"Those who seek information regarding curious and quaint relics or 
customs will find much to interest them in this book. The illustrations 
are good." — Publishers^ Circular, 

"An excellent and entertaining book." — Xewcaatle Daily Leader, 

"The book will be welcome to every lover of archaeological lore." — 
Liverpool Daily Post, 

" The volume is of a most informing and suggestive character, abounding 
in facts not easy of access to the ordinary reader, and enhanced with illus- 
trations of a high order of merit, and extremely numerous." — Birmingham 
Daily Oaaette. 

" The contents of the volume are very good." — Leeds Mercury, 

" The volume is sure to meet with a cordial reception." — Manchester 

" A fascinating book.'* — Stockport Advertiser, 

" Mr. Andrews has brought together much curious matter." — Manchester 

" The book is a very readable one, and will receive a hearty welcome." — 
Herts. Advertiser. 

" Mr. William Andrews has been able to give us a very acceptable and 
useful addition to the books which deal with the curiosities of Church lore, 
and for this deserves our hearty thanks. The manner in which the book is 
printed and illustrated also commands our admiration. " — Norjolk Chronicle, 

Literary Byways. 


Demy 8vo. , cloth gilt, 78, 6d. 

Contents : — Authors at Work— The Earnings of Authors— *• Declined 
with Thanks" — Epigrams on Authors — Poetical Graces — Poetry on 
Panes — English Folk Rhymes— The Poetry of Toast Lists and Menu 
Cards— Toasts and Toasting — Curious American Old-Time (cleanings 
— The Earliest American Poetess : Anne Bradstreet — A Playful Poet : 
Miss Catherine Fanshawe — A Popular Song Writer: Mrs. John 
Hunter — A Poet of the Poor : Mary Pyper — The Poet of the Fisher- 
Folk : Mrs. Susan K. Phillips— A Poet and Novelist of the People : 
Thomas Miller — The Cottage Countess— The Compiler of ** Old 
Moore's Almanack " : Henry Andrews — James Nayler, the Mad 
Quaker, who claimed to be the Messiah — A Biographical Romance : 
Swan's Strange Story — Short Letters — Index. 

** An interesting volume." — Ghwch Bells, 

*'Turn where you will, there is information and entertainment in 
this book." — Birmingham Daily Oaaette, 

** The volume is most enjoyable." — Perthshire Advertiser. 

** The volume consists of entertaining chapters written in a chatty 
style." — Daily Advertiser. 

'* A readable volume about authors and books. . . . Like Mr. 
Andrews's other works, the book shows wide out-of-the-way reading." 
— Glctsgow Herald. 

"Dull after-dinner speakers should be compelled to peruse this 
volume, and ornament their orations and per-orations with its gems." 
— Sundiay Times. 

"An entertaining volume. . . . No matter where the book is 
opened, the reader will find some amusing and instructive matter." 
—Dwndee Advertiser. 

" Readable and entertaining. " — Notes and Queries. 

" Mr. Andrews delights in the production of the pleasant, gossipy 
order of books. He is well qualified, indeed, to do so, for he is pains- 
taking in the collection of interesting literary facts, methodical in 
setting them forth, and he loves books with genuine ardour." — 
Aberdeen Free Press. 

" We heartily commend this volume to the attention of readers 
who are in any way interested in literature." — Scots Pictorial. 

Bygone Punishments. 

By William Andrews 

Demy 8vo^ cloth gtlty ys, 6d. Numerous Illustrations. 

Contents : — Hanging — Hanging in Chains — Hanging, 
Drawing, and Quartering — Pressing to Death — Drowning — 
Burning to Death — Boiling to Death — Beheading — The 
Halifax Gibbet — The Scottish Maiden — Mutilation — Branding 
— The Pillory — Punishing Authors and Burning Books — Finger 
Pillory— The Jougs— The Stocks— The Drunkard's Cloak- 
Whipping and Whipping-Posts — Public Penance — The Repen- 
tance Stool — The Ducking Stool — The Brank, or Scold's 
Bridle — Riding the Stang — Index 

" Mr. Andrews' volume is admirably produced, and contains 
a collection of curious illustrations, representative of many of 
the punishments he describes, which contribute towards making 
it one of the most curious and entertaining books that we have 
perused for a long time." — Norfolk Chronicle. 

"Those who wish to obtain a good general idea on the 
subject of criminal punishment in days long past, will obtain it 
in this well-printed and stoutly-bound volume." — Daily Mail, 

" Mr. William Andrews, of Hull, is an indefatigable searcher 
amongst the byways of ancient English history, and it would be 
difficult to name an antiquary who, along his chosen lines, has 
made so thoroughly interesting and instructive the mass of 
facts a painstaking industry has brought to light. For twenty- 
five years he has been delving into the subject of Bygone 
Punishments, and is now one of the best authorities upon 
obsolete systems of jurisdiction and torture, for torture was, in 
various forms, the main characteristic of punishment in the 
good old times. The reformation of the person punished was 
a far more remote object of retribution than it is with us, and 
even with us reform is very much a matter of sentiment. 
Punishment was intended to be punishment to the individual in 
the first place, and in the second a warning to the rest. It is a 
gruesome study, but Mr. Andrews nowhere writes for mere 
effect. As an antiquary ought to do, he has made the collection 
of facts and their preservation for modern students of history in 
a clear, straighforward narrative his main object, and in this 
volume he keeps to it consistently. Every page is therefore full 
of curious, out-of-the-way facts, with authorities and references 
amply quoted." — Yorkshire Post, 

A Book About Bells. 

By the Rev. GEO. S. TYACK, b.a., 

Author of ** The Historic Dress of the Clergy," etc. 

Crown, Cloth extra, 68, 

Contents: — Invention of Bells — Bell Founding and Bell 
Founders — Dates and Names of Bells — The Decoration of Bells 
— Some Noteworthy Bells — The Loss of Old Bells — Towers 
and Campaniles — Bell-Ringing and Bell-Ringers — The Church- 
Going Bell — Bells at Christian Festivals and Fasts — The 
Epochs of Man's Life Marked by the Bells — The Blessings 
and the Cursings of the Bells — Bells as Time- Markers — 
Secular Uses of Church and other Bells — Small Bells, Secular 
and Sacred — Carillons — Belfry Rhymes and Legends — Index 
of Subjects, Index of Places. 

Thirteen Full-page Plates. 

** A most useful and interesting book. . . . All who are interested 
in bells will, we feel confident, read it with pleasure and profit. — Church 
Family Newspaper. 

" A pleasing, graceful, and scholarly book A handsome 

volume which will be prized by the antiquary, and can be perused with 
delight and advantage by the general reader." — Notes and Queries. 

" * A Book About Bells ' can be heartily commended." — PaU Mall 

**An excellent and entertaining book, which we commend to the 
attention not only of those who are specially interested in the subject of 
bells, but to all lovers of quaint archaeological lore." — Glasgow Herald. 

** The book is well printed and artistic in form." — Manchester Courier. 

** * A Book About Bells * is destined to be the work of reference on the 
subject, and it ought to find a home on the shelves of every library." — 
Northern Gazette. 

** The task Mr. Tyack has set himself, he has carried out admirably, and 
throughout care and patient research are apparent." — Lynn News. 

** We heartily recommend our readers to procure this volume." — The 

** An entertaining work." — Yorkshire Post. 

** * A Book About Bells ' will interest almost everyone. Antiquaries will 
find in it an immense store of information : but the general reader will 
equally feel that it is a book well worth reading from beginning to end. " — 
The NewSy Edited by the Rev. Charles Bullock, b.d. 

** An excellent vfotk." —Stockton Herald. 

** It is a well- written work, and it is sure to be popular." — Hvll 
Christian Voice. 

** Covers the whole field of bell-lore.'* — Scotsman, 

'* Most interesting and finely illustrated." — Birmingham Daily Gazette, 

Bygone Church Life in Scotland. 


Demy 8uo,, Cloth gilt, 78. 6d. 

Contents : — The Cross in Scotland — Bell Lore — Saints and 
Holy Wells — Life in the Pre-Reformation Cathedrals — Public 
Worship in Olden Times — Church Music — Discipline in the 
Kirk — Curiosities of Church Finance — Witchcraft and the 
Kirk — Birth and Baptisms, Customs and Superstitions — 
Marriage Laws and Customs — Gretna Green Gossip — Death 
and Burial Customs and Superstitions — The Story of a Stool — 
The Martyrs' Monument, Edinburgh — Index. 

** The book fairly teems with rare gleanings from the fields 
of archaeology and folk-lore, and cannot fail to be of extreme 
value to the antiquary and of great interest to every intelligent 
reader." — Aor/k British Daily Mail, 

** A handsome volume.'* — Ardrossan Herald. 

" A fascinating book." — Oban Express. 

" Capitally put together, finely illustrated, and a well printed 
volu me. " — Crieff Journal. 

** The volume is certain to receive a welcome from Scotsmen 
at home and abroad." — Daily Chronicle. 

" Every sentence in the book is either instructive or amusing, 
and it should consequently find many appreciative readers. It 
contains a vast amount of traditional and historical lore 
referring almost to every district of Scotland. There are some 
artistic illustrations, especially those of Glasgow Cathedral and 
views of ancient portions of that city from the pencil of David 
Small." — Dundee Advertiser. 

" A pre-eminently readable work." — Dundee Courier. 

"A valuable and entertaining volume." — Newcastle Daily 

**An engrossing book." — Peoples Journal. 

" Entertaining and instructive." — Leeds Mercury. 

"The book has been carefully prepared, and gives inter- 
esting glimpses into the old-time life of our country, and 
should, as its editor desires, * win a welcome from Scotsmen at 
home and abroad.' " — Aberdeen Free Press. 

" A valuable volume." — Kilmarnock Standard. 

" A delightful book which we recommend to the notice of 
all interested in Church life in Scotland in olden times." — 
People^ s Friend.